The latest figures show cases of malnutrition have increased by 50% over the last 5 years and half of those admitted to hospital are aged 60 plus. However, eating a balanced diet can be challenging for those aged 60 or more.
Isolation, lack of mobility, poverty, disease/illness and difficulty in eating are all seen as the causes for this increase. Obesity is also seen as a risk as this group tends to become less active. And as we age it’s vital to have a healthy diet and take into account changing food needs.
Sheelagh Donovan, a health information specialist for Age UK, said recently: “Generally as people get older they burn fewer calories because they’re moving about less.
“If that’s the case they don’t need to eat as much but still need to make sure they’re eating the right foods to provide all the important nutrients. If they have difficulty cooking or getting to the shops, that can be a challenge.”
Here are Sheelagh’s tips to help ensure you enjoy a healthy & affordable diet at any age of your life.
Share the cost of supermarket deliveries with a friend or neighbour. Pooling shopping is also a good way of taking advantage of multi-buy offers such as two-for-one deals.
Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh. Make sure you have a supply of frozen peas or green beans in the freezer compartment.
Try to buy seasonal fruit and vegetables as they tend to be cheaper.
Vary your diet. You’re more likely to lose interest in food if you have the same meals every week.
Aim for different colours on your plate as it looks more appetising and ensures you’re getting a good mix of vegetables.
If you’re not confident about cooking, which is sometimes an issue for recently bereaved men, contact your local Age UK branch and ask about classes.
If you have an ageing relative watch out for changes in body shape, such as loose-fitting rings and clothes.
Slow cookers are great for cheaper cuts of meat such as shin of beef or neck of lamb.
Porridge for breakfast is good for starting the day. It’s easy to make, is affordable and releases energy slowly.
If you spend a lot of time in the house consider taking a vitamin D supplement which is vital for healthy bones. Also try to eat oily fish such as salmon or sardines.
Hydration is also very important. Cups of tea and coffee are fine but also have water close to hand and take regular sips.
If you’re struggling to finish meals try eating smaller portions more often. Try to avoid snacking on biscuits.
Include dairy products in your diet such as milk, yogurt and cheese for healthy bones.
Split a loaf of bread into freezer bags, containing four slices each. By thawing a batch every couple of days your bread won’t go stale.
If you have dentures, get them checked regularly to avoid food becoming stuck or rubbing. Mouths change shape and dentures aren’t supposed to last for ever.
For good digestion and all-round health choose high-fibre foods such as wholemeal bread instead of white. This can help if you suffer from constipation.
The Age UK website has advice about nutrition via: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/health-wellbeing/healthy-eating-landing/ and http://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-news/archive/bid-to-raise-nutrition-standards/ or you can call for advice on: 0800 169 6565