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Getting good nutrition can be a challenge for Americans of all ages, particularly for low-income individuals and families who cope with food insecurity. There are numerous organizations that work to address this, and they often solicit and receive donations during the holiday season. However, nutrition support for vulnerable populations is a year-round need that doesn’t end on January 1st, and seniors are among the most fragile demographics of all.

Here’s why it’s so essential that family members as well as national and community organizations work to support seniors’ nutritional needs throughout the year.

Why Seniors Need Targeted Nutrition Support

Consuming adequate essential nutrients can be especially challenging for seniors, who are more likely to have a complicated relationship with food for the following reasons:

  • The human ability to smell, taste, and work up an appetite decreases with age, making it harder to enjoy food and maintain regular eating patterns
  • Seniors can also experience a lack of appetite due to illness (since immune systems weaken with age) and the side effects of some medications
  • Some medical conditions come with dietary restrictions, and it can be difficult for seniors to work around these
  • Seniors who live alone or with a partner may experience isolation, which can cause them not to bother preparing well-balanced meals

Yet failing to eat well can be disastrous for the health of elderly populations. Some of the disorders that malnutrition can cause include:

  • A (further) weakened immune system and, consequently, an increased risk of infections
  • Wounds that heal poorly or take longer than normal to heal
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased bone mass, which makes bones more likely to fracture

What Seniors and Their Families Need To Know About Nutrition

Fortunately, it’s never too late to improve senior health with good nutrition. Here are some eating tips to help seniors live healthier, longer, and more comfortably:

  • Follow recommended senior nutrition guidelines
  • Get adequate protein in your diet. Consider healthy alternatives to land animal meat, such as seafood, dairy, fortified soy products, and legumes (like beans and peas)
  • Be mindful about getting adequate levels of vitamin B12 through dietary supplements or breakfast cereals
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you aren’t thirsty; our sense of thirst declines as we age, putting seniors at a higher risk of dehydration
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Be sure your snacks and meals contain plenty of fruits and vegetables

Get Nutrition Support With Spectrum Community Services

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance, outreach programs, and services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives.

Visit our website for more information on our senior nutrition programs for both homebound and active seniors. Each meal we provide is low in sodium and contains at least 1/3 of seniors Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) including fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C and A. In addition, our Reusable Container Program in operation at most sites diverts thousands of single-use food containers from Alameda County’s waste stream each month. Contact us today!