In a country where food portions at restaurants are heaping, it’s hard to believe that hunger is a problem. But believe it or not, according to a 2015 report released by the USDA, there are nearly 50 million Americans who live in “food insecure” households, which causes many people to struggle with their health. “Affordable food” isn’t always the most nutrient-rich, leaving many Americans malnourished even if they are eating regular meals.
Seniors who live alone are especially at risk of developing health complications due to a lack of nutrients. Geriatric nutrition has a big impact on overall health as you age. Nonprofit organization Feeding America reports that seniors who are “food insecure” are:
- 60% more likely to experience depression
- 53% more likely to have a heart attack
- 52% more likely to develop asthma
- 40% more likely to suffer from congestive heart failure
So, how can you make sure that nutritional needs for adults are being met in your own life?
Food For The Elderly: Choose Vitamin-Rich Foods
When it comes to incorporating the right nutritional needs for adults into your diet, knowing which foods to choose is half the battle. Proper geriatric nutrition includes vitamin and minerals like Folic Acid, Vitamins B-12, C and D, and Essential Fatty Acids. If you’re not sure which food items would have these healthful benefits, here’s a short list:
- Folic Acid: spinach, asparagus, lentils and certain breakfast cereals
- Vitamin B-12: turkey, salmon, chicken, beef, eggs and milk
- Vitamin C: oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes and broccoli
- Vitamin D: canned salmon or sardines, instant oatmeal, soy milk, cow’s milk, egg yolks and orange juice fortified with Vitamin D
- Essential Fatty Acids: flaxseed oil, canned tuna, sardines, salmon and crab
In general, making an effort to keep fresh fruits and vegetables in your house on a weekly basis can help to inspire you to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods. If you’re not much of a chef, cooking at home can be scary, but taking the time to cook fresh meals a few times a week can also have a big impact on keeping you healthy. Instead of take out or fast food, try one of these lunch recipes and see if you can sense a difference in your energy level, sleep pattern and mood in just a matter of days.
Signs and Symptoms of Malnutrition
Geriatric nutrition recommendations have been put in place by experts to help seniors remain healthy and active, longer. Those seniors who aren’t receiving the proper nutrition on a daily basis are likely to experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Constant exhaustion and lack of energy
- Weakened immune system; increased infections
- Delayed healing of wounds
- Poor concentration; trouble focusing
- Difficulty warming up; constant chill
Even if you are eating regular meals, if you are not eating nutrient-dense foods, your body can still show signs of malnutrition. The nutritional needs for adults specify that well-balanced diets are ideal for maintaining your health.
Help for the Hungry
If you think that you or a loved one might be suffering from malnutrition, it is recommended to contact a physician for help. There are also programs available to those seniors in need of free meals and meal delivery services to their homes:
Meals on Wheels is the largest free food delivery program for seniors in the country. They are a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and can be found in “virtually every community in America through our network of more than 5,000 independently-run local programs.”
The Feeding America Food Bank Program is a nationwide network of food banks that “secures and distributed 4 billion meals each year through food pantries and meal programs throughout the United States.”
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a government assistance program that aims to provide food assistance to low-income seniors. In order to qualify for the nutritious USDA foods, you must be in a low-income bracket and at least 60 years of age.
Taking Health Seriously
At Medical Guardian, we take your health seriously. We aim to give all of our customers the tools they need to live a long and independent life. Even if you aren’t malnourished, if you have a tendency to feel light-headed throughout the day, or are managing diabetes, Medical Guardian has a variety of solutions to keep you connected to help in a medical emergency.