A healthy and balanced diet is crucial for health and wellbeing at any age. However, for older people it is even more important as age-related changes to both body and lifestyle affect how much energy we need and how much of certain nutrients we require. A healthy diet in combination with regular physical activity can help to protect against a number of conditions common in older age including cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline while also protecting oral and dental health as well as bone and joint health.
In the older population, both obesity and malnutrition are common. Being overweight or obese is more prevalent in adults living at home, whereas malnutrition is more prevalent in older people living in care facilities. According to Mike Gibney, director of the UCD Institute of Food and Health “malnutrition, in particular, has far reaching repercussions for individuals, society and health services, yet is under recognised, under-detected and under-treated. What has become clear across Europe is that the economic burden of malnutrition is hugely significant, twice that of the costs of obesity, yet attracts far less attention” (UCD Institute of Food and Health, n.y., Foreword). With Europe’s population aging fast, it is imperative that we address these issues and promote a healthier diet and lifestyle among the older population in order to keep people healthy and autonomous for as long as possible.
With this in mind, the WHOLE Nutrition Module was designed by a registered dietician specialising in nutrition for older people. It aims to offer practical information and tips to both carers and care recipients on how to increase nutritional health in general, while also targeting key conditions common in older age and how nutrition can be used to control or prevent them. It is comprised of a number of fact sheets dedicated to the following topics:
This module is intended to be clear and easily accessible for everyone and is based upon the introduction of small, positive changes. It is not necessary to completely change one’s routine or diet overnight to be healthier. Just a few healthier choices every day can have a fundamental effect on quality of life and wellbeing. In combination with our Physical Activity Module, WHOLE provides a comprehensive healthy living programme for older adults and their carers.