It’s a simple fact that due to hormonal effects, our bodies change as we age. Beginning in mid-life, our bones gradually lose density, our muscles lose strength and flexibility, and our metabolism slows. Older adults generally need fewer calories and it often becomes harder to lose weight. However, the nutritional needs of seniors are just as high – and sometimes higher – than when they were younger, which makes eating a healthy diet very important for optimal mental and physical health.

As a care manager, I often work with seniors who have diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Diet plays an important role in how well certain diseases can be managed or even prevented, but there is a lot of conflicting information and unrealistic expectations when it comes to nutrition and eating healthy.

One of my clients, Jill, was advised by her doctor to eat a heart-healthy diet and try to lose a few pounds due to her high blood pressure and high cholesterol. At age 75, Jill was on medications to treat these conditions, but she was determined to take charge of her health and make changes. She was hopeful that losing weight and eating better would allow her to get off some or maybe all of the medications.

“When I was younger, I dropped a lot of weight by planning every meal and sticking to a strict regimen,” she told me during one of our visits. “I think I need to start doing that again. I just need the willpower I had when I was younger. For some reason, it’s harder now that I’m older.”

The fact is, drastic and dramatic lifestyle changes seldom last. It’s much like setting New Year’s resolutions that turn out to be unsustainable. Instead, I recommend that my clients like Jill incorporate small, but significant, daily changes that over time can make a real difference. It’s called the compound effect: the strategy of taking small, seemingly insignificant actions that over time to reap huge rewards. For example, meal planning can sound great on the surface but can be inconvenient and difficult to maintain. Instead, try making small changes in daily habits, such as the following:

  • Drink water or herbal teas instead of sugary drinks.
  • Focus on adding more vegetables and fruits to each meal.
  • Control how much you eat of healthy snack foods by either pre-packaging the snacks yourself, or buying them in portion-controlled sizes.
  • Eat meals at the table and preferably with friends or family, not in front of the television.
  • Serve food on a smaller plate.
  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Exercise…even if it’s just a short walk each day.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get enough sleep.

Practiced daily, these healthy habits can help improve your quality of life, no matter how old you are.

If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 765-341-9295 or email us at Shannon@AgingLifeCareConsultants.com”. We’ll be happy to assist!