LONG BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--One of the most basic things seniors can do to stay healthy and independent is to eat well. In honor of National Nutrition Month, SCAN Health Plan has assembled a list of six things seniors and their caregivers should know about healthy eating and aging.
“Food provides the energy and nutrients seniors need to be healthy,” said SCAN Medical Director Raymond Chan, M.D. “Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age it is important to have the nutrients that food provides, and that starts with having the tools and knowledge to eat well.”
- Choose healthy foods containing essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Avoid empty calories, which are foods with lots of calories but few nutrients like chips, cookies, soda and alcohol.
- Remember that food choices affect digestion. Not getting enough fiber or fluids may cause constipation while eating more whole-grain foods with fiber, fruits and vegetables or drinking more water may help.
- If you’re tired of planning and cooking every night, consider potluck meals where everyone brings one part of the meal. Also try cooking with a friend to make a meal you can enjoy together. Consider having some meals at a nearby senior center, community center, or religious facility. It’s a great way to enjoy a free or low-cost meal with others.
- If you have problems with your teeth or dentures, don’t let that stop you from getting the important nutrients from meat, fruits and vegetables. If you have trouble chewing, see your dentist to check for problems. If you wear dentures the dentist may be able to adjust the fit.
- If food seems to get stuck in your throat, it might be that less saliva in your mouth is making it hard for you to swallow your food. Drinking plenty of liquids with your meal can help. Tell your doctor that you are having problems swallowing, and ask what might be causing your dry mouth.
- If you have a specific medical condition, be sure to check with your doctor or registered dietitian about foods you should include or avoid.
Throughout its history SCAN Health Plan and its community service division, Independence at Home (IAH), have supported healthy nutrition for seniors through a host of initiatives including charitable giving to help ensure that seniors have food and proper nutrition and popular presentations offered for free to local organizations. Nutrition-related educational topics offered through IAH include: Dos and Don’ts of Healthy Dieting, Food for Thought: Changing My Diet to Manage My Conditions, Healthy Eating on a Budget, and Nutrition Bingo.
“We are proud that 88 percent of those seniors who attended educational sessions in the past reported that, as a result, they were ‘very likely’ to change a behavior to improve their health,” said Marsha Meyer, director of health and wellness services for IAH. “Good nutrition is a cornerstone of good health, so hopefully providing education on nutrition will encourage people to adopt better behaviors and abandon poor eating habits.”
SCAN Health Plan is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans currently serving nearly 170,000 members in California and Arizona. For more information on SCAN, visit scanhealthplan.com or facebook.com/scanhealthplan.
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