Food and Cooking Safety for Senior Adults

As well as being a fun and fascinating pastime, cooking food is as essential to survival as drinking and sleeping. Learning to cook is one of the best skills you can learn in life – so why should you stop once you reach a certain age?

If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, age brings with it several things which may have you find that handling food and cooking isn’t as easy as it used to be.

It may sound daunting, but we assure you that there are things that can be done to make sure you’re cooking and creating tasty dishes for as long as possible.

First things first; how do you know if you need a bit of help?

It’s important to remember that there are several different signs which may hint that you need assistance in the kitchen. One lesser known one may occur if you have recently left hospital for an injury or an ailment that requires you to begin practicing a different diet. If you’re used to cooking similar things every day, this can be quite jarring.

If a dietician has recently advised that you begin a new diet, it may be wish to contact a trusted care provider for assistance – a reputable firm will most likely offer some form of meal preparation service where staff will work with a doctor or healthcare professional to ensure you’re sticking to your new diet.

Or, it could be a more physical issue that is restricting your cooking abilities somewhat. It may be that your hands are starting to shake, that your memory isn’t what it used to be, or countless other ailments.

If you feel as though this applies to you, it may be a good time to contact a reputable care provider – even if it’s the smallest of things holding you back.

For example, it may be that you’re struggling to remember things. If you prefer to have a hot meal at dinner time, you may find yourself forgetting to take things out of the oven or microwave. As well as wasting food, it poses the risk of fire. Contacting a care provider doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have someone in your home 24 hours a day making sure that you don’t set your house alight – they can tailor the care programme to your needs, which may just mean them popping along on a night time to help with your dinner and offering you a bit of companionship.

Or, it may be that you do, in fact, require more constant assistance with preparing food. If you’re just struggling with the preparation of food and not using a heating appliance, a care provider may be able to prepare a batch of meals with you – which can prove to be a lot of fun – to freeze them for you to reheat in the microwave as you wish. If even more care is required, they may be able to prepare fresh meals everyday for you, as well as beverages and snacks.

It’s a lot to take in, but ask for help from care providers, healthcare professionals, and the person requiring the care, and you’ll be as right as rain in no time.

Healthy Eating, Exercise and Lifestyle Guide For Senior Citizens

Healthy Eating and Lifestyle

While it is important for people of all ages to stay healthy, it is especially important for senior citizens to maintain healthy eating habits as well as to stay active which is important in the prevention of chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. By practicing healthier living practices, senior citizens can maintain a healthy weight, avoid depression, and stay mentally sharp. Those participating in caring for the elderly should be aware of these healthy living practices and work to both encourage and facilitate them.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a healthy diet includes many different types of food that are rich in nutrients. They have outlined specifically what this eating plan entails at the website.. Because this eating plan is designed specifically for senior citizens, it focuses on the types of foods that are important for preventing common ailments of older Americans like obesity and serious chronic illnesses.

Healthy Eating 101:

By following some of the tips listed, senior citizens can start a healthier lifestyle today:

  • Don’t skip meals. It is important to eat regularly in order to maintain normal metabolism and not become tempted to eat higher fat foods when food is consumed.
  • Eat a diet that is high in fiber. By eating foods like whole-grain breads, beans, vegetables, and fruits, you can lower your susceptibility to diabetes and heart disease.
  • Senior citizens especially should begin to adjust their diet to one that includes less calories and fat because the body will need less as it ages.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D are very important for nutrition and keeping bones strong. You can get this by either getting in at least three servings of dairy every day, or substituting these with soy-based beverages and proteins.
  • Senior citizens will have a harder time absorbing adequate amounts of the B12 vitamin. For this reason, it is important to eat cereals fortified with this nutrient or taking vitamin B12 supplements with meals.
  • Snack the smart way. Senior citizens will want to limit the amount of unhealthy snacking they do which involves foods high in calories and sugars. Instead, keep small portions of dried fruit, peanut butter, or crackers at hand to keep the appetite under control while remaining healthy.
  • Drink plenty of water. Although senior citizens often feel less thirsty then they used to, it is important to stay hydrated by either drinking water or water-based beverages like tea, coffee, soup, and skim milk.

Planning and Preparing MealsSometimes people find it hard to eat healthily because eating is often a social event which involves many people with different eating preferences and goals. While it is important to be able to enjoy a meal with family and friends, it is also important to maintain your own eating integrity by making sure everyone is on board with your personal healthy eating goals. Friends and family, as well as those providing elder care should facilitate healthy eating, not detour from it. The following tips address ways that senior citizens can maintain the healthy eating habits without sacrificing the social aspect of sharing a meal with others or learning to adjust to a lifestyle that involves eating with less people on a day-to-day basis.

  • Grocery shopping with others. This can be a fun and smart way to control the cost and quantity of food that you consume. If you don’t live with many people, this is a good way to split large-quantity items like potatoes and eggs which you may not be ableto use before expiration.
  • A time saving a smart way to eat healthy is cooking large quantities of food ahead of time and portioning for heating on later dates.
  • A quick way to prepare meals for yourself or for guests involves keeping frozen or canned fruits and vegetables on hand. Draining and/or rinsing canned foods is a good way to lower sodium or calories in foods that are kept in high sugar or high salt fluids.
  • Eating or preparing a meal shouldn’t always be a chore. Trying new recipes or eating outside can be a fun new twist on a meal with someone special.
  • Try to eat with people you enjoy to be around.
  • Some senior citizens have difficulty preparing meals, which is why it is important to become informed about home health care agencies or eldercare facilities that can aid in providing meals. The Eldercare Locator number is 1-800-677-1116.

Loss of Appetite or Desire to EatThere are various reasons for why some senior citizens may not eat as well as they should or lose the desire to eat completely.

If you find that it is difficult to eat well, then it is best to speak with a healthcare provider or someone involved in your elder care about what can be done to help you eat better.

Some senior citizens are unable to eat well due to issues involving the condition of their teeth or issues with dentures. Checking with a dentist about physical pain that occurs when eating or other issues can help with these issues that lead to poorer eating habits.

When senior citizens lose family and friends or become depressed about events in their life, they may lose the desire to eat. In these instances, it is of the utmost importance that these individuals seek help from people they trust like their family, friends, church community, or those assisting with their elder care that will happily help them in finding ways to continue a healthy lifestyle and eating plan.

Some senior citizens complain that the flavor of foods change when they begin to take certain medications. While it is best to consult with a physician about issues surrounding medication, people can also take vitamin supplements with food that will help them stay healthy.

If you have someone who assists with your in home care, ask them to be vigilant about helping you eat healthy. Have them remind you to eat, and ask them to lend you a hand in preparing meals that are good for you.

Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for being able to function in day-to-day life as well as stay mentally sharp. Senior citizens often lose or gain weigh as they age. If you are unsure about what weight you should maintain, consult your physician.

Health Risks Associated with Being Underweight

  • poor memory
  • compromised immunity
  • osteoporosis (weak bones)
  • decreases strength
  • hypothermia (lowered body temperature)
  • constipation

Health Risks Associated with Being Overweight

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • heart disease
  • stroke (lack of oxygen transported to the brain)
  • some cancers
  • gallbladder disease

Because healthy weights will differ for everyone, it is important to verify with a physician whether it is healthy for you personally to lose or gain weight.

Staying Active

Participating in regular healthy amounts of physical activity can not only make you feel better, but it can make you less prone to diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. Staying active can be difficult for senior citizens, still it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

The following are some tips for maintaining a lifestyle that incorporates physical activity:

  • Know what amount of physical activity is appropriate for you. Everyone has different levels of activity that is safe for them, and while remaining active is important, always consult a health care provider about what is right for your lifestyle.
  • Take time to warm up, cool down, or take breaks when participating in a session of increased physical activity.
  • Take it slow. Always start slowly and build up to more intense levels of physical activities.
  • If you experience any pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath during exercise, stop the activity immediately.
  • Drink water.
  • Dress appropriately if you decide to exercise outdoors. Wear warmer clothes during the winter and wear lighter clothes during the summer while applying sunscreen or wearing sunglasses.
  • Wear the correct shoes for the activities that you participate in.

Types of ActivityAerobic activities include activities that increase the heart rate and work the larger muscle groups. You may be able to speak a few words, but would not be able to carry on an entire conversation due to breathing patterns. Some examples of aerobics include:

  • brisk walking
  • water aerobics
  • tennis
  • house work
  • active play with children or pets
  • dancing

Begin incorporating small periods of this activity into your schedule during the week while slowly increasing the duration and frequency as time progresses. It is also important to incorporate different types of exercise that focus on balance and flexibility. Becoming used to a lifestyle with regular patterns of aerobic activity can reduce the effects of aging, control weight, lower risk of heart disease, improve flexibility, increase mood and energy, and expand social networks by meeting new people while doing various activities.

Strengthening activities involve the use of muscle groups against resistant forces like when lifting weights or doing yard work that involves lifting, digging, or pushing a lawn mower. This type of activity can keep muscles strong, reduce the need for a cane, reduce risk of bone injury, and help maintain a healthy weight.

Balance activities focus on muscles in specific areas of the body that encourage control as you move through space, reducing the likelihood of falls. This kind of activity could include walking heel to toe, standing on one foot, getting out of a sitting position without the use of the hands, and standing on the tip of your toes. Balance activities can help you stay steady on your feet and reduce the risk of fall and subsequent injury.

Flexibility activities increase the length of the muscles and can include stretching, yoga, and popular exercise programs like pilates. These activities can maintain the felxibility of joints, prevent stiffness, prevent injuries, and lower stress levels in general.

Weight-bearing activities require the muscles to work against gravity where the arms or legs bear the weight of the body. Activities like walking, tennis, and climbing stairs can build and maintain bone mass or reduce the risk of bone fractures.

Some activities incorporate multiple types of strengthening addressed above. What is important is that senior citizens find an enjoyable and do-able activity that will help them incorporate as many benefits as possible which will have far-reaching benefits to their health.

It’s Easy to Stay Healthy

A common misconception is that it takes an excessive amount of time and extra energy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, by just taking short walks for ten minutes a time or cleaning the house regularly can be practical ways to incorporate different physical activities into your daily schedule. And remember, staying healthy as a senior citizen will have increasing benefits as you continue to age.

Staying Motivated to Take Care of Yourself

Just because we age doesn’t mean that we are any less stressed by occurrences in life that may make us feel bad about ourselves or decrease our motivation to be good to ourselves. If anything, many of the challenges senior citizens face add stress.  Losing loved ones and friends or having trouble being independent with the added stressed of disease and functioning due to aging can cause depression or lifestyle changes that contribute to bad health. Here are some important tips for being good to yourself when you may not feel motivated due to circumstances out of your control:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Stay connected with family and friends
  • Join clubs or other social groups that you enjoy
  • Spend time with people that you enjoy
  • Volunteer at organizations in your community
  • Work a part-time job that isn’t too stressful or demanding
  • Watch a funny movie or find a way to laugh
  • Take up a hobby that you enjoy

Most importantly, senior citizens should remember that it is relatively easy and worth-while to maintain a healthy lifestyle as they age. Be sure to keep family, friends, and those involved in your elder care informed of your goals as they can help assist you. And remembering to eat healthy meals regularly, getting in physical activity, getting enough sleep, and being good to yourself are critical for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The Real Truth About Organic Food

Organic Food

A recent study funded by the European Union about the benefit of organic food has led to the idea that it is conclusively and by far better than those conventionally grown products. The study itself was a million dollar investment for the EU in order to prove organic food is healthier and more beneficial to that of usual and technological means.

The pioneers of the research arrived at the following conclusions:

That you can actually get up to 40% more antioxidants from organic grown fruits and vegetables

Aside from antioxidants, most organic products are richer in iron and zinc

Milk from organic produces 90% more antioxidants

The impact of this research has even forced the Food Standards Agency to review their previous stand of implying that there is really no big difference when it comes to nutritional benefits from organic and non-organic products. Just like most so-called experts and researchers in their own right, having to believe these findings is pretty hard to absorb but as we look at the process of scientific research, we’ll learn how convincing it is.

The experiment involved the planting and growing of fruits and vegetables on two different sites, organic themed and the non-organic one. Cattles and poultry were as well grown and raised. The significant difference had even reached to a point where the researchers have agreed that eating organic food helps increase the mineral and nutrient intake of individuals who are not even keen to eating the right diet.

What is organic food and how does it differ from conventionally grown products?

Food is grown in two ways. When food is produced without the use of synthetic materials like pesticides and fertilizers, it is said to be grown in an organic or natural manner. Conventional farming and production of food meanwhile involves the use of chemical and fertilizers to speed up everything. Of course, growing your foods naturally is the best way to live healthy and safe. With conventional produce, you will likely accumulate and absorb several unhealthy mixes of elements like Chlorpyrifos. This stuff is capable of impairing your immune system and having a significant intake of it may lead to reproductive and nervous system abnormalities. Another common thing you’ll get from conventionally grown foods are carcinogens. They are of course responsible in growing several varieties of cancer.

For many people going organic means having to spend more on food and expenses. Most people don’t realize that the benefit they get from organic material far exceeds the price they pay for it. If you elect to stick with toxic and conventionally produced foods, you will have a greater chance of accumulating liver and kidney malfunction. The pesticide content of these foods lead to the blocking of intestinal walls and additionally, it makes the absorption of vital nutrients a harder task for the whole body.

Is Eating Organic Foods Healthier Or Not?

Organic food has generally been anywhere from twenty to one hundred percent more expensive than conventionally grown foods. However as the demand increases and automated farming tech gets better this will likely lead to dramatically lower prices.

However till that day arrives the price difference begs the question, is organic food healthier or not. This is actually not as easy a question to answer as one might think and depending on who you ask you will get broadly different opinions.

The reason is primarily due to the inconsistencies in the methodology of the scientific studies as well as lack of good data.

In a study done in 2010 covering fifty years of studies on organic food from 1958 to 2008 culled from over 98,000 articles concluded that “… evidence is lacking for nutrition-related health effects that result from the consumption of organically produced foodstuffs.”

However in an equally comprehensive study completed in 2014 at Newcastle University which was performed by an international team came to the conclusion that “… organic crops are up to sixty percent higher in a number of important anti-oxidants when compared with conventionally-grown ones.” Moreover the review went on to state that they found 50% lower amounts of harmful heavy metal contaminants including, cadmium, mercury and lead.

In a more recent study also carried out by Newcastle University in 2016 the scientists determined that both organic milk and meat contained around 50% more omega 3 fatty acids, which has been shown to be useful in the prevention of illnesses such as depression, cardiovascular disease, ADHD and Alzheimer’s, than conventionally produced products. The scientists also concluded that they are much lower in saturated fats as well

So which scientific studies should you believe? The most persuasive argument in my opinion for the disparity in conclusions from these studies and the past ones is the difference in information that was available. Professor Leifert from the School of Ecological Agriculture at Newcastle University notes, “Research in this area has been slow to take off the ground and we have far more data available to us now than five years ago.”

With the growth of the Internet and smart devices it makes sense that the information after 2010 would be a good deal more reliable compared to studies done pre-2008. Not only that but the structure of the studies themselves have actually developed as well. Again owing to the Internet a standardization has been set in place to make the methodology of studies done more disciplined so that to use a pun you are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “Since the very beginning of time until the year 2003 humankind created five exabytes of digital information. An exabyte is one billion gigabytes-or a 1 with eighteen zeroes after it. Right now, in the year 2010, the human race is generating five exabytes of information every two days. By the year 2013, the number will be five exabytes produced every ten minutes… It’s no wonder we’re exhausted.”

You might be tempted to conclude from the Newcastle study that there is a consensus inside of the scientific community that organic food is definitively better than it’s non-organic counterpart and that the argument has been settled, but you would be wrong again as there is even some contention over this more recent meta-analysis.

Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition at King’s College in London, told the Guardian newspaper that the study was “sexed up,” and questions the methodology used by the researchers and claims that there have been broad conclusions drawn from the studies.

In addition there have been two other studies done using meta-analysis, one from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published in 2009 and another from Stanford University which both determined that the nutrient levels in both organic and conventional farmed foods were similar.

Furthermore Marion Nestle, a professor of public health, nutrition and food studies from New York University published on her blog that one of the organizations involved with funding the research was the Sheepdrove Trust, which is an organization that funds research to promote organic and sustainable farming practices.

While others mentioned that the University of Kent study focused on the high levels of man made pesticides that were left on conventionally farmed agriculture but failed to study the natural pesticides such as rotenone and pyrethrin that are produced by plants and used on organic crops, as these can be potentially hazardous to human beings as well.

So the question remains is eating organic foods healthier? While the facts regarding whether there are advantages to consuming organic fruits, vegetables and meats, still appears debatable and inconclusive at best, what is clear is that eating a well-rounded diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables whether they are organic or not in order to protect against ailments such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure is a must. This the science is definitely clear about.