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Senior Health and Nutrition Tips

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is a lifelong commitment, but it becomes more complicated as you age. The requirements for a healthy mind and body change as your body changes.

Complications

As you age, there will be different complications that your body may encounter, and you will need to adjust your nutrition accordingly. The following are some age-related challenges that will require nutrition adjustments.

Limited finances

Once you retire, you may start facing money restrictions that can change the way you grocery shop. Fresh, healthy foods are often more expensive than the junk food you come across in the grocery store or the drive-thru. This lifestyle change can cause issues with your nutrition because cheaper food often has fewer nutrients.

Medication side effects

It is common for people to start taking more medications as they age. Along with medications come side effects. Some of the common side effects seniors deal with are reduced appetite, nausea, and a change in the way food tastes. 

If these side effects are severe enough, you may see your health decline significantly since these side effects can keep you from eating.

Decreased sensitivity

As you age, some of your senses can start to dull and feel numbed down. That means that it takes longer for your body to register a stimulus and uses more energy than when you were younger. 

You can also experience a decrease in appetite due to your sense of taste and smell lowering. In more extreme cases, you can even experience trouble noticing a difference between fresh food and stale or old food. These decreasing sensations could be detrimental to your health.

Poor dental health

Dental health is something that people of all ages need to maintain, but dental issues become more common as you age. Older people are more likely to deal with issues such as receding gums, missing teeth, mouth sores, and jaw pain.

These dental issues can make it difficult and painful to eat. Making sure that you are eating healthy foods is crucial since sugary foods cause a lot of these issues. It’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly to stay on top of any dental problems as they arise. 

Physical issues

Your body will go through a lot of changes as you age. It is common that the older you get, the weaker your body becomes. Along with age come health issues like arthritis that cause your body to be in pain and to weaken. 

Physical difficulties can make it hard for you to perform tasks that were once easy, basic functions. This could deter you from taking care of yourself and doing simple tasks like cooking and walking around the grocery store.

Memory loss

Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and memory loss can all change your lifestyle drastically and are more common as you age. You could forget your meal plan or forget to eat entirely. This can present health issues on many different levels.

Mental health issues

Mental health can be a problem for people of any age, but after you retire, you go through a lot of mental and physical changes. Coping with things like your children or family moving away, feeling lonely, and losing loved ones can take a lot out of someone. 

The combination of big life changes and physical health issues can compound and lead to anxiety and depression. Depression is something that can be managed, but without the proper help and treatment, it can lead to bigger health problems.

Nutrition

You may hear people discussing the importance of nutrition and brush it aside because nutrition is always important and you are doing fine. However, as you age your nutritional needs change a lot. 

Without the proper nutrition, your muscle mass can decrease more than is natural for aging. Your body goes through significant changes and does not burn calories as easily as it did when you were younger. That is why it is crucial to adjust your diet and nutrition intake.

Your diet will need to have more nutrient-dense foods in order to maintain your health. Adding more foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, and low-fat dairy is important along with portion control.

Budget

Once you stop working full-time, you’ll need to adjust your budget according to your new lifestyle and income.  It is important to figure out what your new budget is and readjust your meal planning and grocery shopping accordingly.

It would be easy to go for cheaper food with fewer nutrients, or to buy less food with your new budget. However, this will take a toll on your health in the long run. Shopping smart will help you stay in your budget, but maintain the nutrition you need in your diet.

Watch what goes on sale and use coupons when you can. Some grocery stores offer discount days for seniors. You can save money by planning your meals around sales and stocking up on canned goods that have a longer shelf life. When you are shopping for fruits and vegetables, go for the economical type such as apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, cabbage, and sweet potatoes.

It is important to have a plan and to do what you can to stay within your new budget. Some of the following tips can help with your planning:

  • Use coupons.
  • Ask about discounts.
  • Use store brands.
  • Know that convenience costs you.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Decrease waste and buy only what you need.
  • Avoid check-out temptations.
  • Use meal deliveries.

Shopping

When it is time to go grocery shopping, start by making yourself a specific list of what you will need. You can make this  easy by gradually adding things to your grocery list throughout the week as you notice the need for something.

By keeping a list of what you need, you can help yourself stay within your budget and avoid junk foods that could tempt you while you browse.

Making a grocery list can seem daunting due to the size of it or because you are trying to stay healthy. A way to simplify this is by having a list of your weekly or bi-weekly staples. Staples can include some of the following:

  • Frozen vegetables or fruit
  • Pasta or rice
  • Flour
  • Canned soup and tuna
  • Dried fruit
  • Bottled 100% juice
  • Powdered, dry milk

A trip to the store could be daunting due to physical limitations as well. You could find it hard to get around the store or add items to your cart. Some of the following could simplify your grocery trip.

  • See if your store has motorized carts available. 
  • Ask employees for help if you can’t reach something.
  • Plan your trip around when you are feeling the best.
  • Go to the store during a time that won’t be busy.
  • Contact your local Area Agency on Aging about volunteers who may be able to help.

Staying healthy as you age can present issues on multiple levels, but with the proper planning, you can keep things easy. Reach out for help if you need it and prepare yourself by taking the proper steps necessary.

Hannah Verret
Hannah Verret is a Content Developer at Med-Alert Pros in Memphis, TN. Hannah has been working in content creation throughout her entire adult career. When Hannah isn't writing or organizing social media posts, she's spending her time reading and loving on her many pets.

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