Study sheds light on seniors’ diets
Canadian seniors like taking part in family meals, but they often eat alone.
That is according to a research study conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network, which showed that lack of the shared family experience, including companionship, is the biggest mealtime challenge for seniors.
The Home Instead Senior Care network surveyed Canadian seniors aged 75 and older who live alone in their own home, to measure mealtime routines, challenges and preferences.
According to the 2006 Canada Census, about 37 per cent of the population age 75 and older—1.8 million people—lives alone. This new study shows that almost (46 per cent) of them have at least four warning signs of poor nutritional health.
According to the research, the most common of these warning signs and their incidence rates are:
• Eating alone most of the time (76 per cent)
• Taking three or more different medications a day (67 per cent)
• Eating few fruits, vegetables or milk products (36 per cent)
• Tooth or mouth problems that make it hard to eat (29 per cent).
“We know from experience that many families live too far away or don’t have the time to help their aging parents,” said Don Henke, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office at 202-1449 St. Paul St. in Kelowna.
“But our research shows that seniors eat more nutritiously when family and friends are around. They really enjoy having that connection with someone.”
The study reflected why seniors find themselves without mealtime companionship. The most common obstacles that prevent these seniors from sharing more meals are not being able to drive (23 per cent), family/friends don’t have enough time (22 per cent), and family/friends live too far away (17 per cent).
All this has prompted the Home Instead Senior Care network to develop a public education program called Craving CompanionshipSM, which is designed to help seniors stay connected socially and eat more nutritiously, and to help families support a nutritiously vulnerable population—older adults who live alone.
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