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Seniors and Nutrition

Good nutrition contributes to a greater quality of life for seniors

More than 1 in 3 seniors in the care of others is at risk for under- or mal-nutrition (Mayo Clinic/American Dietetic Association). Malnutrition is the lack of proper nutrition, not necessarily a lack of food. Detecting malnutrition in seniors may be difficult, and even seniors who eat enough may be eating the wrong foods to keep themselves healthy. At Comfort Keepers® Canada, we help seniors live healthy, independent lives and promote senior nutrition.

As seniors age and change, so do their nutritional needs. Making sure those needs are met makes a real difference in their quality of life. Caregivers or family members should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hunger or malnutrition in older adults, which include the following:

  • Watch for physical problems, such as poor wound healing, easy bruising and dental difficulties.
  • Keep track of weight loss, which may require purchasing a home scale or transporting the older adult to the doctor’s office for weight checks when the individual is unable to stand without assistance.
  • Pay close attention to seniors’ eating habits and ask them to tell you where and when they eat, but don’t rely on self-reports a lone. Since our caregivers, the people we call Comfort Keepers®, often spend mealtimes with seniors at home, they may have a better idea of normal eating habits.
  • Suggest family members visit during mealtimes, which can improve a senior’s consumption. If a senior lives alone, make sure you know who is buying his or her food.
  • Know what medications an older loved one takes and whether they can affect appetite and digestion. Use the resources available through your local retail pharmacist to check for drug nutrient interactions or possible side effects of prescribed medications.
  • If there are medical questions regarding nutrition, medication, and health, Comfort Keepers suggests seniors, their family members, and other caregivers speak with doctors about tests that can help identify chronic malnutrition or other nutrition-related problems.

Featured Articles on Seniors and Nutrition:


As we get older, the fewer taste buds we have and the less sensitive they become. In our prime, we have between 10,000 and 15,000 taste buds. By age 70, many seniors have lost two out of three, so the sense of taste declines – and foods begin to taste more bland.As we get older, the fewer taste buds we have and the less sensitive they become. In our prime, we have between 10,000 and 15,000 taste buds. By age 70, many seniors have lost two out of three, so the sense of taste declines – and foods begin to taste more bland.

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Today, there are more than 10 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. With more than 20 Canadians being newly diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day, chances are that diabetes affects you or someone you know. However, it is known how to prevent and/or delay type 2 diabetes so these trends do not have to continue.

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Every year over the age of 40, our metabolism slows. Though our nutritional requirements stay almost the same as younger adults, our energy needs decrease. To keep our bodies feeling good and functioning well, we need to be aware of how our diet needs are evolving as we age. Every stage of life brings changes to our bodies, and taking an active role in diet and nutrition can mean more energy and better disease prevention in the future.

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One key to finding high-nutrient foods for seniors and elders is easy: color. A colorful plate with a variety of vegetables and fruits each day will boost your intake of important nutrients. Look for a mix of fruits and vegetables and fill your plate with these valuable foods.

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The importance of good nutrition spans the generations, but as we age, our dietary requirements change. Seniors need to concentrate on eating foods with a high nutrient density—that is, whole, natural, fresh foods that are packed with essential nutrients and fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, healthy sources of protein and low-fat dairy products.

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