The Link Between Senior Nutrition and Cognitive Impairment

senior nutritionIn our last blog post, we shared some age-related issues that can keep older adults from eating well, but what about when unhealthy eating habits lead to cognitive impairment? Malnutrition in seniors is more common than you may realize. According to the National Resource on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, as many as 35 to 50% of the older residents of long-term care facilities are suffering from malnutrition, and as many as 65% of seniors in hospitals may be malnourished.

Malnourished seniors are twice as likely to visit the doctor and 3 times as likely to be hospitalized. They also experience reduced muscle strength and poor healing. Not only that, but recent research points to the role of senior nutrition in cognitive impairment as well. Healthy Aging and Longevity research has shown a startling link between dietary patterns practiced during adulthood and age-related cognitive decline and dementia risk.

To reduce the risk of dementia, it’s suggested that senior adults maintain a diet high in fruit, vegetables, cereals and fish, and low in saturated fats.

It’s important to note that those with diabetes are particularly sensitive to the foods they eat. Specifically, a senior with diabetes will experience a memory function decline after a meal, especially if that meal consists of simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, soft drinks, candy, etc. Although the exact physiological mechanisms underlying these dietary effects are not completely known, the modulation of brain insulin is a likely contributor.

Making wise decisions about your diet today can help reduce the risk for cognitive decline in older years. Take the proactive steps below to help improve your loved one’s nutrition now:  

  • Make nutritious food choices at every meal, such as replacing simple carbs with complex ones (green vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.)
  • Maintain a healthy BMI and weight
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Get help from a dietitian or the Fort Madison home health care team at Advanced Home Health Care

For seniors, grabbing a quick snack is often easier than preparing a balanced meal. Advanced Home Health Care’s Fort Madison, IA home health care team can help ensure that your loved one always has nutritious food in the home. With the help of our transportation services, we can assist seniors in shopping for groceries (or pick them up for the senior), and plan and prepare delicious and nutritious meals at home. Contact us to learn more about our dedicated in-home senior care services!

The Care You Need. The Quality You Deserve.