Having good physical function is important in maintaining independence for older adults. Physical function includes everyday tasks such as the ability to walk around, get up from a chair without assistance or bathe and dress oneself.
Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining good physical function among older adults. A Brigham and Women’s Hospital study that compared diet quality and physical function in over 50,000 women found those who had a healthy diet over the years were less likely to develop problems with physical function as they grew older.
According to the Canadian Community Health Survey – Healthy Aging, nearly a million Canadians age 65 or older are at nutritional risk. Between 20 to 30 percent of Canadians over age 65 has a fall each year, and falls are a leading cause of injury and hospitalization. While a healthy diet won’t prevent a fall, having stronger bones and overall body strength may limit the risk of fractures due to a fall.
Calcium and vitamin D are essential components of bone strength. Good food sources for calcium include:
- Spinach, collards, kale and turnips
- Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
- Sardines or canned salmon
- White beans
- Juice with added calcium
Sunshine stimulates the body to produce vitamin D. However, from about October through March (or longer in the far north), the Canadian sunshine is not sufficient to stimulate the body to make Vitamin D. Eating food high in Vitamin D can help.
Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, fortified milk, tuna, salmon, beef liver and cod liver oil. According to Health Canada, all Canadians over the age of two should consume two cups (500 mL) of milk each day, and adults over age 50 should take a vitamin D supplement of 400 international units (IU) each day.
Healthy eating makes good sense. It will nourish and strengthen the body and help preserve the physical function that remains.
ComForCare Home Care can help older adults with meal planning, meal preparation and other daily tasks. Let us help you live your best life possible. Contact us today for a no obligation in-home assessment.