Senior Malnutrition Is More Common than You Think: Assisted Living Meals Can Help with Well-Rounded & Fresh Choices

September 8th, 2016 by John Wilson

Most people are well aware of the challenges and risks facing seniors who have limited mobility and live alone. Social isolation, depression, inability to maintain and clean their homes, forgetting to take medication or taking too much or the wrong medication, the constant threat of falls or accidents … these are common risks. There’s another surprisingly common risk most people don’t think about: Malnutrition.

Seniors Have Unique Nutritional Needs

With age, seniors’ metabolisms and energy expenditures decrease. While seniors don’t need to consume a high number of calories per day, they do need to make sure the calories they consume are quality calories. Eating the wrong foods can lead to weight loss, depression, lack of energy, and brittle bones. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends seniors’ daily diets include 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fruit, 2 to 3.5 cups of vegetables, 5 to 10 ounce of grains, 5 to 7 ounces of protein, 3 cups of low-fat dairy and at least 5 teaspoons of healthy oils, such as those found in nuts, avocados, olives, etc. Having to prepare meals with limited mobility and limited access to transportation to go grocery shopping makes this a tall order for seniors who live alone.

Companionship is part of eating at assisted living centers.

Assisted living centers help seniors eat together.

Sobering Statistics on Living Alone and Diet

There have been many studies conducted about the dietary habits of people of all ages who live alone. Recently, researchers from the Queensland University of Technology in Canada evaluated more than 40 of those studies. They concluded people who live alone aren’t motivated to cook. Part of the joy of cooking, after all, is sharing the meal over companionable conversation. Instead of taking time to plan out well-balanced meals, people who live alone tend to subsist on grab-and-go or heat-and-eat foods lacking key nutrients. In the elderly, isolation, they found, leads to depression. Depression makes people less likely to prepare healthy foods or to eat at all. The end result? A surprisingly high percentage of malnourished senior citizens.

Communal Senior Living Ends the Vicious Cycle

A huge benefit of senior living center in Oklahoma City and any other city is it keeps seniors engaged and prevents them from being isolated. Where does conversation flow most naturally? In the dining hall! The best assisted living communities in OKC take great pride in dishing out food residents will love. Where mealtime when living alone felt like a chore, mealtime surrounded by peers and filled with enticing options becomes something to look forward to. Well-rounded, fresh foods nourish the body and the soul.

When you are ready to tour affordable assisted living facilities in the Oklahoma City area, don’t forget to spend some time in the dining room. Most facilities will enthusiastically encourage you to join the residents for breakfast, lunch or dinner to sample the menu. The most progressive facilities take great pride in providing restaurant-quality meals that are nutritionally balanced and delicious. At Village at Oakwood, we are proud to offer an array of creative culinary options, as well as traditional favorites. Contact us for a tour and to join us for a meal!

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