Be Salt Savvy - Recommendations for Elders

We regularly hear the dangers of too much salt in our diets, but what is the real story?

Sodium, a component of salt, is an essential nutrient that has many vital functions in our bodies.  In other words - we need salt to survive - in limited amounts. As an electrolyte, sodium attracts and holds water in the blood and is key in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and muscle function. 

Too much sodium leads to increased blood volume and elevated blood pressure, increasing the risk for stroke and causing damage to the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes and brain (vascular dementia).

What’s the Magic Number?

Blood pressure increases with age and so does the body’s sensitivity of sodium. An older adults’ kidneys also have more difficulty removing excess sodium. Elders, over the age of 51, African Americans, and those with hypertension, diabetes and heart or kidney disease should limit daily sodium to 1500 mg or less.

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Gluten-free for Older Adults: A Trend or a Necessity?

In recent years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the popularity of going gluten-free.  Social media touts the health benefits and food labels can add to the confusion.  When caring for older adults, it’s important to ask, “Is this just a trend or a medical necessity?”

For some older adults, gluten-free dining is the only proven treatment for celiac disease.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the small intestine.  It is diagnosed in elders, over the age of 55, at two times the average of other age groups. 

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Mealtime with COPD: Foods for Better Breathing

COPD is a common lung disease that makes breathing harder over time. Symptoms continue to worsen and interfere with activities of daily living like walking, eating and caring for oneself. Healthful eating is critical to provide extra energy and improve health outcomes.

Elders with COPD are at a much greater risk of malnutrition and its serious consequence like falls, fractures and trips to the hospital. To reduce risk of malnutrition, encourage extra calories and nutrient dense foods. Try these tips for improved nutrition and better breathing:

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Dining with Alzheimer's Disease: Encouraging Independence at Mealtime

Those with Alzheimer’s or dementia sometimes forget the normal routines of eating like how to use spoons and forks, open packages or the motion of moving food to the mouth.  Caregivers can offer cues on eating or make modifications to meals to encourage independence.  Focus on matching the elder’s physical and cognitive abilities with the appropriate level of personal control.

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Vital Nutrition: Caregiver Tips for Improving an Elder's Appetite

We know that sometimes just getting an elder to eat can be a challenge.  They may tell their caregiver they are not hungry, or food just doesn’t appeal to them.  Research has confirmed time and again that good nutrition can improve chronic conditions and increase an elder’s vitality.

Trouble chewing or swallowing, side effects of medication,  chronic disease and even loneliness can all contribute to poor appetite.  No matter the cause, eating poorly leads to weight and muscle loss, decreased strength and mobility and a greater risk of falls or entering the hospital.

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