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Is a Paleo Diet Healthy for the Elderly

paleo

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Paleo Diet’, but maybe you’re unsure exactly what it means. A Paleo Diet (Paleolithic diet, Caveman diet) is based on eating habits of our ancestors. This includes focusing on foods like meat, nuts, and berries. Notice that this diet cuts out most of our modern food. This is because proponents of the diet claim that the Paleolithic era, after which the diet is named, is the time during which humans evolved their specific nutritional needs. They claim that our metabolism has been unable to adapt fast enough to our modern foods. These modern foods are those that came during the invention of agriculture and animal domestication.

What foods does this include? Well Paleo enthusiasts advise against grain, legumes, dairy, and processed foods. They see these as some of the causes for many modern day ailments like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Critics, though, have pointed out that during the Paloelithic period, many humans ate grains and legumes, and that it is too difficult to pinpoint exactly what humans ate back then.

What does the Paleo diet require?
Put simply, the Paleo diet is about more protein and meat, less carbohydrates, and high fiber. Protein should high moderate to high fat but avoid trans fats and omega-6 fats. Though the diet wants you to stay away from carbohydrates, it says to eat non-starchy fruits and vegetables. And your high fiber amount should come from these non-starchy vegetables and fruits, not from grains.

Foods excluded from the Paleo Diet
– Dairy Products
– Legumes
– Grains
– Processed Oils
– Salt
– Refined sugar
– Alcohol
– Coffee

Is the Paleo Diet safe for seniors?
It really depends on your level of health. If you’re really considering switching to a Paleo diet, it’s recommended to talk to your doctor. They can tell you what types of foods you should be focusing on in your diet. Maybe you can slowly introduce more Paleo-like elements into your diet. Try cutting out a lot of carbohydrates, processed foods, refined sugars.


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Health Foods for the Elderly

The Mental Health Association of South Mississippi put together this list of 52 health foods for senior citizens, to help improve mental acuity, bone health, and more.  We wanted to share it with all of you, as these really are a great base to start from when planning your loved one’s diet.

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Brain Food-These foods improve brain function, help you maintain memory and more.

  1. Shellfish: Shellfish contains B12, iron, magnesium and potassium; great for brain function.
  2. Salmon: Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and brain.
  3. Eggs: Eggs contain choline, a type of B vitamin that is good for memory and stress management.
  4. Almonds: Almonds are often touted as a good brain food, giving you lots of energy.
  5. Fruits and vegetables: Fruits/vegetables have great health benefits; and the brain loves green, leafy veggies.

Bone Health-As we get older, our bones get weaker. Women in particular are at risk for osteoporosis.

  1. Fortified milk: Make sure the milk you’re drinking is fortified with Vitamin D.
  2. Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese is estimated to have between 318 and 156 mg of calcium.
  3. Cabbage: Cabbage raises estrogen levels, which is good for aging women.
  4. Calcium-fortified soy milk: If you’re lactose intolerant, try fortified soy milk.
  5. Collards: Just 1/2 a cup of collards contains about 20% of your recommended daily calcium.

Dental Health-Keep your teeth strong and cavity-free by eating these foods.

  1. Raisins: ScienceDaily reports that the “compounds found in raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.”
  2. Water: Water is essential to good oral health.
  3. Raw broccoli: Raw broccoli is rich in magnesium, which teeth love.
  4. Cooked spinach: Cooked spinach is another good source of magnesium.

Avoiding Empty Calories-Seniors require less calorie intake than younger people, the calories they do consume should be full of proteins and vitamins, not sugars and alcohol.

  1. Peanut butter: In moderation, peanut butter is a good snack, it lower cholesterol and keeps you full longer.
  2. Dark chocolate: “Dark chocolate is healthy chocolate,” and in small servings, it’s a great alternative to heavy desserts.
  3. Milk: Milk has calcium and Vitamin D, and it’s also good for weight loss.
  4. Nuts: Unsalted nuts are a great snack. They keep you full longer and give you nutrients.
  5. Fiber-rich foods: Foods with a lot of fiber keep you fuller longer and are better for your digestion.

Antioxidants-Antioxidants are attributed with helping prevent cancer and helping your body get the most nutrients from your food when it breaks it down.

  1. Carrots: Carrots are rich in beta-caroten. Steam carrots if raw ones are too crunchy.
  2. Spinach: Raw and cooked spinach are both good sources of lutein.
  3. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are soft and have lots of beta-carotene and Vitamin A. Be careful of extra sugary yams, however.
  4. Tomatoes: Eat tomatoes to get the antioxidant lycopene.
  5. Blueberries: Blueberries are considered good brain food and are rich in antioxidants.

Low-Sugar-Sugary diets are full of empty calories and can lead to diabetes. Ask your doctor about starting a low-sugar diet to fight off excess weight gain, fatigue and more.

  1. Diet, caffeine-free soda: If you’re a soda-oholic, try a diet, caffeine-free one. Water is best.
  2. Whole grain breads: Multigrain, whole grain and mixed grain breads have a low glycemic index.
  3. Apples: Apples have a lower glycemic index than oranges, peaches and bananas.
  4. Low-fat yogurt: Instead of ice cream, have some low-fat yogurt for a snack.
  5. Vegetables: Snack on fresh veggies for sugar-free and low-sugar snacks.

Digestion and More-If you need help fighting constipation, colon problems or UTIs, check out this list with your doctor.

  1. Red beets: Red beets are said to help constipation symptoms.
  2. Cranberry juice: Drink 100% cranberry juice (not cranberry juice) to ward off UTIs.
  3. Raw foods: Raw and unprocessed foods are best for warding off colon cancer.
  4. Prunes: Prunes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps digestion.
  5. Turnips: Include turnips in your meals to get even more dietary fiber.

Eyesight-For some seniors, eyesight weakens over the years. Your diet may help.

  1. Garlic: Garlic has a lot of sulfur, that produces a kind of antioxidant for the eye called glutathione.
  2. Lutein: Foods with lutein, like kale and spinach, are good for eyesight.
  3. Onions: Onions are also rich in glutathione.
  4. Low sugar foods: High sugar diets may make, AMD or age-related macular degeneration, worse.
  5. Fish Oil: Fish oil found in mackerel, salmon, flax seed and walnuts, help preserve eyesight.

Low-Salt-Sodium is a concern for many seniors, below is a list of low-sodium foods.

  1. Lima beans: A 3.5 oz. serving of canned lima benas only have 1 mg of sodium.
  2. Blackberries: Blackberries just have 1 mg of sodium per 3.5 oz. serving.
  3. Roast beef: Roast beef without extra sauces only has 60 mg of salt per 3.5 oz. serving.
  4. Okra and Tomatoes: This hot veggie dish is still low sodium.
  5. Apple sauce: If sodium is an issue for you, make or buy a low-sodium apple sauce to snack on.

Fruits and Veggies-Raw fruits and vegetables or lightly steamed vegetables are the best choice for getting the most vitamins and minerals per bite.

  1. Kiwi: Kiwi is one of the few fruits that contains riboflavin, which helps release energy from carbs.
  2. Peas: Peas are another food that can help your body get energy from carbohydrates more easily.
  3. Mushrooms: Mushrooms have more potassium than oranges and can lower blood pressure.
  4. Cauliflower: Eat cauliflower for a faster metabolism, which slows as you get older.
  5. Summer squash: Summer squash is easy to prepare. It’s also a good source of niacin.
  6. Strawberries: Strawberries have antioxidant benefits and Vitamin C.
  7. Peppers: Peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene and Vitamin C. They also contain potassium and iron.
  8. Leeks: Eat leeks to get a good serving of folate.


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Winter Tips for the Elderly

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With another big freeze gripping the northeastern United States, now seems like a good time to pass along this set of tips for elderly people who are dealing with living in the extreme cold right now.  While our area remains a comfortable temperature, many of us have at least one elderly or infirm family member or friend living up in the deep freeze.  These tips, originally written by Andrea Lee on Care.com, are for them!

Avoid Slipping on Ice
Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. “Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months,” says Dr. Stanley Wang, a physician at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations.

While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications, which Dr. Wang says are a leading cause of death from injury in men and women over the age of 65.

Make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.

Dress for Warmth
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia — a condition where the body temperature dips too low. According to the CDC, more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.

So don’t let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers. Going outside? Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.

Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees — if it does get medical assistance immediately.

Fight Wintertime Depression
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors have less contact with others during cold months. This can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation.

To help avoid these issues, family members can check in on seniors as often as possible; even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily.

Check the Car
Driving during the winter can be hazardous for anyone. But it is especially dangerous for older people, who may not drive as often anymore or whose reflexes may not be as quick as they once were. Get your car serviced before wintertime hits — or ask a family member to bring it to a garage for you. Checking things like the oil, tires, battery and wipers can make a big difference on winter roads. Also make sure your AAA membership is up-to-date in case of emergencies.

Prepare for Power Outages
Winter storms can lead to power outages. Make sure you have easy access to flashlights and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out. Stockpile warm blankets. Longer power outages can spoil the food in your refrigerator and freezer so keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be eaten cold on hand. If the power goes out, wear several layers of clothing, including a hat. Move around a lot to raise your body temperature.

Eat a Varied Diet
Because people spend more time indoors and may eat a smaller variety of foods, nutritional deficits — especially Vitamin D deficiency — can be a problem. Nicole Morrissey, a registered dietitian in southwest Michigan, recommends consuming foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your safety by checking the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector and buying an updated one if you need to.

Read the entire original article HERE.


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The Age-Friendly Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving nearly here, we wanted to share this lovely set of tips for hosting an all-ages-inclusive Thanksgiving dinner that we found floating on the Internet.  They were originally posted here on the eCaring blog, and were written last year by Melody Wilding.  Remember, it can be hectic to work out getting family from far flung locations together in one place, preparing an enormous meal, and making sure everyone is comfortable and having fun, especially the elderly or infirm members of the family.  We want you to have all the help you can get!

Woman with turkey

Tips for Hosting an Age-friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

By: Melody Wilding

Between coordinating travel plans, cooking, cleaning, and throwing a cast of personalities into one room, anxieties can run high around Turkey Day. If you are entertaining a mixed age group this year, respecting the eldest guests should also be high on your list.

How can you host a Thanksgiving dinner that accommodates the unique health and physical needs of elderly relatives and friends? Creating an age-friendly Thanksgiving dinner is simple with some forethought, planning, and communication.

Here are ways to ensure it is a happy holiday meal for young and old alike:

  • Be mindful of seating arrangements – If your aging parent or grandparent has physical limitations, seat him or hear at the end of the table, providing ample room to get up easily and more often without disrupting others.
  • Review the floor plan – Run through your home’s layout to make sure it is safe and free of any hazards that could cause a fall. Add additional lighting, secure carpets, and reduce any clutter in walkways. If your elderly loved one has a walker, wheelchair, or medical equipment (such as an oxygen tank), ensure that passageways have enough room to accommodate. Going out for dinner? Visit the restaurant beforehand to see if there are many stairs, tight spaces, or other conditions that would make it difficult for your aging relative to navigate safely.
  • Ask about dietary requirements – Begin planning your dinner menu in advance by asking your loved one and consulting his or her medical provider for dietary guidelines. For diabetics or persons with chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, special diets such as low salt, low sugar, or low fat must be adhered to. If your loved one has suffered a stroke or otherwise has trouble swallowing, consider including a soft food dish in your menu.
  • Strike up conversation – Do not make the mistake of making your loved one feel invisible at Thanksgiving dinnertime. Many falsely assume that seniors are cranky and uninterested in chatting. However, the communal, family-feel of Thanksgiving is the perfect time for aging loved ones to share stories and lessons. As host, help encourage intergenerational communication by making children, teens, and older adults comfortable and meaningful, rather than awkward.
  • Enlist help – Consider hiring in-home respite care services to support caregiving duties around Thanksgiving crunch-time. This person can provide assistance with personal care, such as feeding, as well as companionship and stimulation. If your aging parent of grandparent has a home health aide, invite the caregiver to share dinner with you. Knowing your loved one has the help they need within range will bring comfort and peace of mind.
  • Acknowledge the person’s pace – Persons with dementia become uncomfortable and fearful in situations filled with noise and action. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, find a peaceful place him or her to rest before the event begins to help ease the transition. Keep the volume of music and conversation even and fairly low. If being around many people or at a restaurant is too stressful of physically impossible, improvise! Plan family visits throughout the day to cover all meals shifts – breakfast, lunch, or dinner – or ask small groups of family members to visit with the person on alternate days before or after the Thanksgiving holiday.