The Link Between Senior Nutrition and Dementia: Reduce the Risk with These Tips
Although there are a variety of age-related issues that can impact senior nutrition, research is now pointing to an even greater reason for ensuring our older loved ones stick to a healthy diet: potential cognitive impairment. And malnutrition in older adults is more common than you may think. According to the National Resource on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, upwards of 35 to 50% of the elderly residents of long-term care facilities are struggling with malnutrition, and as many as 65% of older hospitalized adults are estimated to be malnourished as well.
Malnourished older adults are twice as likely to see the doctor, and three times as likely to be hospitalized. They also encounter lessened muscle strength and poor healing. Not only that, but a recent study points to the role of senior nutrition in cognitive impairment as well. Healthy Aging and Longevity research shows a disturbing link between dietary patterns established during adulthood and age-related cognitive decline and dementia risk.
To lower the risk of dementia, the recommendation is for senior adults to maintain a diet high in fruits, vegetables, cereals and fish, and low in saturated fats.
It’s particularly important to note that seniors with diabetes are especially sensitive to the foods they eat. Specifically, an older diabetic will experience a memory function decline following a meal, especially if the meal consists of simple carbohydrates, like sugar, soft drinks, candy, etc. While the exact physiological mechanisms behind these dietary effects are not fully understood, the modulation of brain insulin is likely a contributor.
Making good decisions about your diet today can go a long way towards reducing the risk for cognitive decline in later years. Take the steps below to help improve your loved one’s nutrition now:
- Make healthy food choices at each meal; for instance, replace simple carbs with complex ones (green vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.)
- Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control
- Exercise regularly
- Seek help from a dietitian or the experts in dementia care at Hired Hands Homecare
For older adults, grabbing a quick snack may seem easier than preparing a balanced meal. Hired Hands Homecare can help make sure your loved one always has nutritious food choices in the home, provide transportation to go grocery shopping (or pick groceries up for the senior), plan and prepare healthy meals, and even clean up the kitchen afterwards. Contact us to learn more about our customized, professional home care assistance in Kentfield and the surrounding areas.