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Good nutrition is essential for people of all ages, and that's no less true for seniors. A healthy diet is one of the building blocks of good mental and physical health and overall well-being.

However, elderly individuals may face unique difficulties in maintaining a healthy diet compared to the general population. For example, it's natural for your appetite to decrease as you age, leading to overall lower food intake (and consequently, less opportunity to consume healthy foods). Additionally, seniors who no longer have access to transportation, or who struggle with mobility, may find grocery shopping or cooking difficult. As a result, many seniors opt to skip meals, or consume easy junk foods instead.

Disease Prevention

Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet keeps you physically healthy in a variety of ways. In addition to helping your body maintain an appropriate weight, keeping the digestive system healthy, and boosting immunity, a healthy diet for seniors can help prevent against the following serious diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer

Better Cognitive Function

Good nutrition doesn't just help your body—it can also have a positive impact on your mind. Studies suggest that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, or can slow their progress for individuals who have already been affected. Nutrition strategies for keeping your mind sharp include reducing sugar intake, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and consuming plenty of healthy fats, particularly omega-3s.

Maintain Mobility

Recent research has indicated that diet plays a significant role in preventing disability in seniors. In particular, antioxidant nutrients typically found in fruits and vegetables (such as vitamins, carotenoids, and selenium) are connected with lower rates of disability and functional limitations.

On top of that, experts agree that maintaining a diet with adequate amounts of calcium, protein, and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis and maintain musculoskeletal health. Seniors who have a healthy bone mass are at reduced risk for potentially dangerous fractures, and those who do experience fractures are more likely to have an easier recovery.

If you or someone you know is a senior who is struggling to maintain a healthy diet, it may be time to consider looking for help in the form of a senior meals program. Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Visit our website for more information or to help provide a meal for a low income senior.

 

There are a number of reasons that seniors may prefer to age in place (such as comfort and familiarity or cost-effectiveness), but one of the biggest reasons is a desire to maintain their sense of independence and autonomy. And yet, as most caregivers can tell you, it can sometimes be hard to strike a balance between helping an elderly loved one maintain their independence and also accommodating their changing needs and lifestyle. For example, as they age, many seniors find that things like transportation or chores around the house become increasingly difficult.

While finding a solution that both provides for seniors' needs and allows them to live independently can be challenging, it's not impossible. If you find yourself navigating this process as a caregiver, here are a few ideas for ways you can help your loved one:

Make Sure Their Home Environment Is Safe

For seniors who no longer have the mobility and strength they once did, even everyday household tasks can become laborious or even dangerous. In particular, falls can present a serious health risk to seniors. By installing necessary home modifications such as grab bars, non-slip surfaces, and step stools, you'll be improving accessibility and reducing risk of injury.

Don't Be Afraid to Utilize Technology

Almost everyone can benefit from some technological help in their lives, but for seniors, the right technology can make a huge difference in their ability to live independently—particularly if they live alone. Consider helping your loved one with the following devices to help them stay safe and connected:

Outsource Where It's Needed

Independent living for seniors doesn't necessarily mean that they do everything themselves—just that they have a sustainable lifestyle that allows them to have their needs met consistently. In some cases, that might mean bringing in outside help for tasks that are no longer feasible on their own. For example, your loved one might benefit from having someone come once a week to help with cleaning or yardwork around the house, finding a transportation service to drive them to and from errands and appointments, or signing up for a meal delivery program.

Help Them Stay Active

Ensuring that seniors stay active can go a long way toward maintaining their physical and mental health and overall well-being. Exercising regularly, socializing, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities are great ways for seniors to stay involved in their communities, which is  critical for successful aging in place.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Visit our website for more information on our senior meals program or to download a copy of our utility assistance application.

Most people are used to hearing about the importance of exercise. However, many people don't realize that as they age, the importance of physical activity for staying healthy grows. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and energy, exercise for seniors can have huge benefits for their physical and mental well-being.


Prevent Illness and Disease
Exercise is commonly touted as a way to stave off heart attacks. This is no less true for seniors, but on top of preventing cardiovascular disease, fitness for seniors can also reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.


Improve Mental Health
Exercise has been proven to be effective in combating mental health disorders such as depression, which affects a large number of elderly people. On top of helping boost mood, seniors who regularly engage in fitness activities have shown decreased risk of dementia and memory loss.

Aging in place is becoming an increasingly popular option for seniors. By aging in place, individuals are able to maintain more independent lifestyles in the comfort of their own homes.


However, for seniors who decide to age in place—or who aren't quite ready to make the transition to assisted living—changes in physical ability, health, and circumstances can make some aspects of daily life challenging. This is particularly true for individuals who live alone, many of whom are in need of home help in the following areas:

Household Chores

For individuals with limited mobility, even normal tasks like cleaning and maintenance around the house can be physically challenging—particularly if the house in question includes features such as stairs or difficult-to-reach areas, or needs to be weatherized to accommodate changing seasons. Caregivers and in-home care professionals can help by taking over more demanding chores, or hiring additional help from maids, gardeners, or handymen.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are responsible for the greatest number of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older people in the United States. A bad fall can result in a head injury or broken hip, both of which can be serious for seniors. These injuries can be compounded if the person who has fallen lacks the strength to get up without help and remains on the floor for an extended period after their fall.

Falls can be caused by a variety of factors, many of them related to environment and lifestyle. Fortunately, this means that it is within nearly everyone's power to take steps to prevent falls and mitigate their damage when they do occur.