JIS News

As the festive season moves to its climax in a few days, persons are being encouraged to pay more attention to the diets of elderly family members, who may be tempted to consume foods hazardous to their health.
Indeed, this segment of the population requires special attention as they usually have a range of conditions to deal with, including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Violet Griffith, Programme Development Officer for Chronic Diseases in the Ministry of Health has advised that family members of the elderly should endeavour to provide a variety of foods to prevent them from feeling deprived during the festivities. However, she cautioned relatives to take into consideration the type of illnesses afflicting their older relatives when providing food, as some types of food could be detrimental to their well-being. For those suffering from heart disease and hypertension, she suggested dishes low in salt and sodium seasonings, while for diabetics, use sweeteners as substitutes for table sugar.
Ms. Griffith also told JIS News that snacks should be incorporated in the meal plan over and beyond the festive season, as the elderly population “did not have big appetites and were not able to eat enough at one meal to keep them until the next meal”.
“You have to approach meal planning based on the individual, so in terms of snacks you need to see that they get nutrients that they need,” she explained, adding that a person suffering from high blood pressure and high cholesterol should not have “a lot of cheese for snacks”.
In tailoring the food dishes for the elderly, Ms. Griffith also said that relatives had to take into account their difficulties with chewing as many wore dentures.
“Choose softer foods that they can manage such as mashed foods or whatever form they can manage,” she recommended.
Over the festive season, Ms. Griffith urged relatives and friends to eat with the elderly, as they tended to enjoy dining with company.
“Sit and eat with them while having conversation because this is usually encouraging for them, because oftentimes they may just sit there and let the food get cold. When they have company at meal time it really makes a difference,” she said.
Meanwhile, relatives and friends are reminded that medications and alcohol do not mix. Make sure to check warning labels on medication bottles of the elderly.

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