According to some estimates, half of all seniors living at home and as many as 85% in long-term care facilities may be getting dangerously low levels of nutrients.
There are a number of reasons for this. Many older people, especially those living alone, find shopping and cooking tiresome, so they tend to eat things that are easy to grab—such as popcorn, cereal, or crackers.
Chronic illnesses also play a role in poor nutrition. Some reduce appetite; others affect the body’s ability to draw nutrients from food.
Some medications contribute to poor nutrition by suppressing appetite, altering the way food tastes, causing nausea or vomiting, or interfering with the way the body absorbs nutrients.
There are some things you can do to help boost nutrition and make sure your body gets important vitamins and minerals:
- Enrich your diet. If all you want is a few crackers, spread peanut butter on them. Add fruit to your cereal. Sprinkle wheat germ on yogurt.
- Use nutritional supplements. Undernourished seniors are most likely to be deficient in vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid (vitamin B9), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin D, and the minerals calcium and zinc.
If medication side effects are causing problems, ask your Sobeys Pharmacist to discuss this with your doctor. There may be a different medicine you can take that won’t have this effect.