Jack and Sheila asked that their last names not be used.
53 applemag.ca FALL 2018
feel less hungry—potentially leading tomalnutrition.
And not getting enough to eat orgetting enough nutrition from the foodwe eat can lead to even more problems.Eating poorly can affect anyone’s abilityto live independently, Merrell says.
Our bodies need nourishment.Without it, we lose energy and ourmuscles, joints and bones weaken. Inturn, this can increase the risk of tripsand falls. Poor nutrition can also make ithard for people to heal from injuries orrecover from illness.
When combined, malnutrition andother health concerns can lead tofrequent doctor visits and longer stays inthe hospital, too.
Poor eating can even lead to long-termor permanent effects. Three years afterhis bout with illness and poor eating,Jack still hasn’t regained his physical ormental abilities. He can no longer playbridge with friends, and he can’t makethe short walk from his home to churchor the grocery store anymore.
“Malnutrition is silent. It doesn’t jumpout at you,” says Sheila, Jack’s daughter.
“But it’s a serious issue.” |a
Jack was 93 when his health startedfailing three years ago. At the same timehis appetite disappeared.
And that put him into a spiral thatmakes healing harder: the sicker he felt,the less he wanted to eat. And the lesshe ate, the tougher it was to care for hisunderlying condition.
“Good nutrition helps us live full,vibrant lives well into our senior years,”says Amber Merrell, a registered dietitianwith Alberta Health Services in Barrhead,Alta.
“A variety of foods from each food
group helps gives us the energy and
nutrients that we need to continue
participating in activities that we enjoy.”
Close to half of Albertans who come
to hospital already are malnourished—
the clinical term for not getting enough
nutritious food or not getting enough
nutrition from the food they eat.
Reasons for that vary. Shopping andmeal preparation aren’t always easy aswe get older, Merrell says. And changesin taste, smell, memory, dental problems,depression and chronic illnesses suchas diabetes and Parkinson’s disease canall make it difficult to eat, or make you
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO EAT
HEALTHY AS YOU GET OLDER?
Here are some suggestions fromMerrell and the dietitians at AlbertaHealth Services.
• Eat protein at every meal to helpmaintain muscle mass and helprecover from illness. Foods high inprotein include meat, eggs, milk, fish,cottage cheese, soybeans, yogurt,and fortified soy beverages.
• If you’re in a care facility or hospital,ask for nutritious substitutes suchas a liquid meal replacement if yourappetite is low.
• Whenever possible, make mealtimea social event to enjoy a shared mealand create a welcoming environmentfor healthy eating.
For tools and tips on stayinghealthy and improving yournutrition, go to ahs.ca andsearch healthy eating toaddress malnutrition.