I recently read in one of my natural news update reports that the Department of Health and Human Services will be awarding $100 million dollars in funding to provide meals to tens of thousands of low-income older Americans. This will be divided out between Senior Citizen centers, community services, home delivery, and Native American nutrition programs.
The article goes on to state that it is difficult for many seniors to afford the right foods to keep themselves healthy and active. And that without nutritious meals, the health of many older Americans declines; they become more susceptible to illness; their ability to manage their chronic diseases is reduced, and they may lose their ability to remain at home, and independent in their community.
The fact that this funding is being provided is wonderful, however, I question what most organizations who feed the elderly consider a nutritious meal. Just in my experience with my own elderly mother, I saw the types of foods being offered, and was appalled. The fact that the center she was frequenting was serving lots of white starches, loads of sugar and a small portion of protein was very disturbing to me. I wonder if there is any nutritional training provided for senior centers, community organizations and other organizations, specifically to geriatric nutrition.
When my sisters and I where looking at nursing care facilities to help care for my mother, the nutrition aspect was a main focus for me. Again, I found most facilities were severely lacking when it came to meal preparation. Pair this with the fact that a lot of elderly do not have a great appetite to start with and all they may tend to eat is the sweets. We have recently moved my mother to a smaller intimate facility who allowed us to have some input into her nutrition. The facility has since started making healthier changes to all their patients’ meals, which I find exciting to see.
In addition, most facilities will not let you give your loved one an omega-3, a multi-vitamin or any supplement without a doctor’s prescription. The elderly need this even more, especially those in any type of continuous care facility. When, as in my mothers case, she loses her appetite, I am able to make her a fiber and protein shake from the FitSmart line, adding in some of the Renew! Multi-Nutritient powder. She loves the flavor, thinking she is drinking a milk shake, and it is actually providing her with a balanced nutritional meal replacement.
With this major funding being provided, I feel we should take this opportunity to re-evaluate the meals that the elderly are being provided, and make some positive changes to provide not only good lean proteins, but healthy complex carbohydrates, as well as adding in some healthy oils or foods to provide the omega oils needed for so many conditions.
It’s time we take better care of our elderly citizens.