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Debunking Common Myths on Senior Nutritional Needs
At Cozy Retire, we take pride in a number of the high-quality services we provide to all our assisted living facility residents, particularly those that help them lead a healthier, more comfortable life. One of the biggest areas here is that of nutrition, a realm where we’re highly cognizant of individual resident needs and will always strive to provide healthy, balanced dietary plans for everyone in our care.
Sadly, there are a number of pervasive myths out there regarding the nutrition seniors require as they continue to age. We even see some of these misconceptions among previous caregivers or family members of some of our residents. Let’s go over a few of these senior nutrition myths and set them straight for anyone who is assisting with the care of a senior loved one.
Myth #1: Skipping Meals is Fine
One of the most dangerous myths out there is that as people age, they can get away with skipping meals or missing out on basic nutrition from time to time. We’re not sure where this misconception came from, but it’s simply not the case at all: Skipping meals is almost never advisable, and can lead to blood sugar changes that may impact mental awareness and could even increase the risk of falls and related concerns.
These risks are particularly heightened if the senior in question has diabetes. Now, it’s certainly true that some less active seniors might require fewer calories in a day than they used to – but the proper method for adjusting to this is changing menus and limiting meal size rather than skipping some meals altogether.
Myth #2: Weight Gain or Weight Loss are Unimportant
Down similar lines, some people seem to mistakenly believe that unintentional weight gain or weight loss in significant amounts aren’t as meaningful for seniors. Once again, this is not true: Weight loss can often signal major underlying health conditions like cancer, dementia or a thyroid concern, while weight gain can exacerbate the symptoms of chronic health conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
In other cases, major weight changes are signs of poor nutritional habits. Some seniors reach a point where cooking for themselves every day is difficult, and they may turn to frozen or fast foods or even begin skipping meals on their own. In these cases, helping return them to proper nutrition is vital.
Myth #3: Appetite Loss is Expected
It’s certainly true that older adults may have a lower appetite, but it’s important to understand why this is happening rather than just accepting it. In some cases, it may be caused by preventable issues like underlying infections or side effects of medication, which can be reversed.
Myth #4: Nutrient Needs Never Change
While eating healthy is important no matter what your age is, the nutrient needs to accomplish this vary as we get older. Seniors don’t process or absorb vitamins and minerals as well as when they were younger, for instance, and may need additional amounts of vitamins D and B plus potassium, magnesium and calcium. In some cases, supplements may be needed as part of a nutritional plan.
For more on avoiding senior nutrition myths, or to learn about any of our retirement community amenities or services, speak to the staff at Cozy Retire today.