“Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food, ” said Hippocrates, the father of Medicine. The usual hazards associated with old age can be effectively controlled with a healthy diet. Under nutrition, increased blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, arthritis etc are their common health problems that peeps as old age sets in. Social isolation, decreased mobility and depression affect the general well being of the elderly people adversely.
Since there is a reduction in energy needs, the total quantity of food intake will be lowered. However, the need for nutrients does not come down. That is why diet for the elderly should be balanced. Fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables, milk and milk products etc should be included in their daily diet. Fried food and sweets should be discarded. Increase in calcium content is a welcome change, as bones need to be stronger. Foodstuffs rich in fat content should be given up. Vegetable oils should be preferred while cooking food for them. Exposure to sunlight is of prime importance as it greatly helps in the production of Vitamin D. Food rich in dietary fibre is a compulsory ingredient in an elderly man’s diet.
It is wise to reduce the amount of food in each meal; where as, the number of meals can be increased if needed. This is because there will be a gradual decrease in the normal digestive pace. Physical activity and other light exercise need to be continued. Routine health check ups and weight monitoring should also be strictly followed. In cases of teeth loss, food should be provided in soft cooked manner so that they do not find it difficult to chew. Pleasant surroundings need to be ensured while food is served. Food presentation should also be made in such a manner that it arouses appetite.
Old age is referred to as ‘repeated childhood’. Grandpas and grandmas need our care and love all the more during this period. Along with that, if they are provided with a sufficiently balanced diet, old people will certainly find their second childhood even more enjoyable than the first.