July Blog – Nutritional Services

Two older women cooking with fresh ingredients.

Nutritional Services & Why Healthy Eating Matters for Older Adults

Nutritional needs change as we age. Older adults are particularly susceptible to health issues and chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Eating the right food with the proper nutrients and being as active as possible can help ward off many diseases. 

However, figuring out what exactly is the right nutrition for you can be difficult. As we age, our metabolism slows down, so we need fewer calories than we did when we were younger. Older adults need more of certain kinds of nutrients than previously, such as potassium, calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and vitamin B 12. That’s why the National Council on Aging recommends these tips for getting the proper nutrition as we age:

Know what a healthy plate looks like.
Did you know the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) food pyramid many of us learned in school is no longer considered the best way to figure out the proper proportions for a meal? Instead, the USDA now recommends using MyPlate to visualize what a healthy plate should look like, based on your age and body type. In all cases, aim for a diet that mimics a rainbow—the more brightly colored foods, the better. 

Look for important nutrients.
Eating a variety of food is a good way to make sure you are getting the needed nutrients. Your plate should include lean proteins (lean meats, seafood, eggs, and beans), fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice and whole wheat pasta), and low-fat dairy. Whenever possible, choose foods that are low in sodium and high in fiber. 

Use recommended servings.
The latest daily serving size recommendations can be downloaded from the USDA’s DietaryGuidelines.com website.

Stay hydrated.
As we age, we simply aren’t as thirsty. Drinking small amounts of fluid throughout the day is a good way to stay hydrated and help with digestion. Water is always the best option, but unsweetened fruit juices and low-fat or fat-free milk are good second choices. Make sure to keep drinks high in sugar and salt to a minimum. 

 

The Senior Alliance Nutritional Services Can Help

If you or someone you love struggles with healthy nutrition, The Senior Alliance can connect you with resources to help, including:

Meals on Wheels
Homebound individuals age 60 and older can receive a hot meal delivered to their homes. The meals provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance per day.

Congregate Meals
Individuals age 60 and older can get a hot lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays at any of our 41 community lunch sites. The meals provide at least one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance per day. Please call the lunch site to reserve a meal 24 hours in advance. Information about Congregate Meals is available through Wayne County Senior Services.

Liquid Nutrition
Liquid nutrition is available for individuals age 60 and older who are unable to ingest solid food due to a disabling disease or condition. Individuals who receive liquid nutrition are not eligible for Meals on Wheels or Congregate Meals. 

Focus Hope
Focus Hope provides food boxes to individuals age 60 and older who live in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties. 

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
TEFAP provides food boxes to low-income families living in southern and western Wayne County.

Double Up Food Bucks
Double Up Food Bucks is available to individuals with an active Michigan Bridge Card. This program matches fruit and vegetable purchases dollar for dollar, up to $20 per day, effectively doubling the number of fruits and vegetables you can purchase for the same cost.

Senior Project Fresh/Market Fresh
Each spring, The Senior Alliance distributes a limited number of coupon booklets that can be used to pay for fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets. Call us at 1-800-815-1112 for more information.

Our Information Specialists are ready to help connect you with any of the programs above or provide more information. Call us at 1-800-815-1112 to speak with someone today. 

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