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Geriatric Nutrition- Part 1

Dear Grandparents - It’s all about you Geriatric Nutrition

We often neglect you and yours presence in our life’s, due to various reasons which are been highlighted as excuses in our day to day life, it is important to take care of you, sadly due to the time we are living now is making us to forget about the importance of grandparents in our lives.

Moving forward, our  future generation may not even know the grandparents because of the way we are taking care of the elderly today, there is so much negligence towards them and their health that they end up leaving us as early as  60-70 years. In order to stop this we as human have to take a lead and take care of them to be healthy for the benefit of our society and GenX, GenY and GenZ. 

It’s so sad to see old age homes are being sprouting by scores  sensing the huge business opportunity as nuclear families are not willing to keep the old parents in the same house with their spouses and kids. Chances are that the younger generation will grow without the wisdom of their grandparents. Google search, AI  and SIRI cannot replace care, benevolence and thoughfulness of our elders. These artificial connections cannot show the righteous path of love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness.

I want to whole heartedly express my deepest gratitude to all the grandparents out there. And SORRY because of the way we are treating you today, , and let me continue my Gratitude towards your age group by sharing my little knowledge of nourishment at old age.  

Nutrition during old age

The focus of my blog is the individuals above the age of 60 years, the Sexagenerians.

Aging is an irreversible biochemical change that occurs throughout an individual’s life cycle and continues until death. Genes are the major determinants of nature of aging, healthy lifestyle and good nutrition may delay the process of aging.

Physical changes

  • Greying of hair
  • Loss of teeth
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Decline in weight
  • Bowed posture
  • Insomnia (lack of sleep)
  • Loss of vision and decrease in sense of learning and healing
  • Decrease in physical strength.

Physiological changes

Diminished sense of taste and smell, decrease in salivary secretion or lack of salivation.

They often experience the following health issues

  • Improper gastro intestinal function like indigestion, poor gut health which leads to constipation
  • Improper liver function 
  • Neurological issues like they tend to keep forgetting the things and develop a state of confusion.
  • Poor Cardiovascular function and issues like increase in the prevalence of hypertension
  • Renal function issues like kidney stones, kidney damage, and fluid retention
  • Skeletal tissue – Bowed posture, bones become increasingly vulnerable to fractures.
  • Hormonal changes effects the calcium metabolism leading to osteoporosis and bone loss. Menopause in women decreases their iron requirements

Psychological changes

  • Loneliness – Leads to depression and in turn loss of appetite. They tend to follow irregular meal timings which leads to malnutrition.
  • Economic aspects- Financial constraints often limit healthy food intake.
  • Anxiety- Emotional stress and deprivation leads to alternations in food habits and attitude towards the food.
  • Loss of self-esteem and independence

Dietary modification

The various physical, physiological and psychological changes during the old age necessitate the following modifications in the diet.

  • The problem of dentition or loss of teeth creates the need to include foods with soft texture and that are easily chewable.
  • Foods should be easily digestible as there is a decrease in production of digestive enzymes
  • Fat should be restricted to prevent obesity and susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases.
  • Junk food to be avoided completely
  • Foods rich in calcium like milk, milk products, greens, seeds should be included liberally which supply vitamins and minerals.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables and green leafy vegetables should be included regularly as it is rich in essential nutrients and anti-oxidants.
  • Coffee, teas and carbonated beverages should be restricted as they may result in insomnia (lack of sleep) due to over stimulation
  • Small and frequent meals may be given instead of three large meals
  • Plenty of fluids need to be included to prevent constipation and dehydration.
  • Salt intake must be moderate

I feel really indebted to my grandparents and parents to learn and live with good values, principles and practices. This is my effort to pay tribute to my elders, the wisdom keepers of the modern world. The blog will conclude next week with examples of nourishing food and ideas. I sincerely hope that we all contribute to their physical and psychological wellbeing by effecting changes which will impact their lives positively.