Basic feeding for the elderly

Monday January 28 2019

Fruits and vegetables are a healthy choice.

Fruits and vegetables are a healthy choice. COURTESY PHOTO 

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

As we get older, our nutritional needs, appetite and food habits change. A number of diseases set in as a result of lack of proper diet. Degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration, osteoporosis; diabetes; numbed senses; dental issues are more likely to come up; you become weaker; develop memory loss and depression.

All these can be addressed by making health food choices. According to Dr Paul Lutaakome, a nutritionist at Jinja Referral Hospital, eating a balanced diet is ideal for everyone, irrespective of their age. There are nutrients, however, that play an important role in the health of the seniors.

Omega-3 fatty acids
These fatty acids are important for people of all ages including elderly people. They prevent inflammation which can cause cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Dr Lutaakome also remarks that omega-3 fatty acids also slow the progression of age related macular degeneration; a condition that leads to poor vision. Recent evidence has shown that these fatty acids can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keep the brain alert.

It is recommendable that you eat more fibre-rich foods to help lower your risk of heart disease and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, and more beans and peas.

Dr Lutaakome says, “Elderly people usually eat little amounts of food because they are less active and their appetite is usually bad but eating fibre filled foods encourage bowel movements but also energy dense foods are very helpful.”

Fruits and vegetables
He says, “Bananas are easy to digest by the elderly and offer potassium and fiber to fill up when they need a snack or have a sweet craving. Berries are powerful anti-oxidants that offer a good supply of potassium, calcium and magnesium.”