4 Fundamentals–Fundamental #4
Nutrition and Hydration
Food and water are essential. We know that. We covered diet choices in previous posts, listing 98-year-old Sr. Advisor R’s favorite foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also followed R’s shopping trip to Trader Joe’s for some of her favorite foods.
#4a. Food If you haven’t already viewed this post, click https://helpparentsagewell.com/2012/03/13/help-aging-parents-the-food-a-98-year-old-buys-to-cook-for-herself/ for sensible, tasty food ideas and shopping strategies that, no doubt, have contributed to keeping R healthy during her older years.
R worked out some dietary changes for herself, without a doctor telling her she needed to adjust her diet. For example, she watches salt intake–buying low-sodium products when available as explained in the aforementioned posts. She realized that while her taste-buds enjoyed rich food, it wasn’t agreeing with her 80-something-year-old body chemistry; so she eliminated rich foods from her daily diet.
She also decided to buy “low fat” products when they were an option and tasted decent. This isn’t to say R never enjoys treats like candy, dessert, or quiche; rather she rations rich foods, never overdoing because, she says, “it’s not worth paying the price. Why make yourself sick? It’s hard enough to be old.”
Bodies age. Metabolism and who-knows-what-else changes. Recognizing what doesn’t’ agree with us, probably checking with our doctor to rule out a more major problem, then making changes is no doubt proactive and preventative.
#4b. Hydration On the other hand, we may not realize we aren’t drinking enough. Inadequate hydration causes problems. Most studies have found that older people don’t experience thirst like younger people do. When I mentioned this to R, she acknowledged she didn’t often feel thirsty, but didn’t know it was age-related. She added that her systems function better when she drinks more water. We talked about how much water older people should drink. Click Mayo Clinic’s link, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283, for hydration information.
Mother experienced a consequence of not drinking enough water. She was in the hospital. In her late 80’s she took a bad fall in a darkened movie theater. It did a lot of damage, but she could eat and take medications by mouth. Not drinking enough water when taking pills, however, caused them to lodge somewhere in Mother’s throat. I learned this a day later, after significant throat irritation was traced to the partially dissolved pills. Pills need ample water to dissolve and do their job. Wish I’d known about this NIH link: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/faq/faq13.html before the unpleasant incident.
After that, Mother was mindful about drinking enough. She didn’t like water much, so I bought flavored water. We lined up the bottles to be consumed each day and adjusted for juice and soup. Result: Mother felt a sense of achievement upon finishing the last bottle each day–and no more hydration problems. Setting goals and accomplishing them–always a plus!
Good vision, good hearing, good food, plenty of fluids, and keeping the body moving provide a strong foundation for aging well. And the more we know–and aging parents know–about supporting these important functions, the better the chances of helping parents age well.
* * *
Seems like I’ve always heard about this simple way to test whether we’re drinking enough liquids–but I only read it this once in a naturopathic doctor’s work: The skin on the back of the hand–if gently pinched (remember old people bruise easily)–should go quickly back into position when the body has sufficient hydration. Returning slowly into position is an indication of insufficient hydration.
For additional hydration information: http://www.europeanhydrationinstitute.org/files/EHI_Key_Tips_on_Hydration_Elderly.pdf
Yes, I know this isn’t Tuesday or Saturday, but my wireless access is “ify” while I’m cleaning our sold/soon-to-close-home, which no longer has internet access….and my iPhone just can’t do it! Anyway, don’t they say flexibility is a good thing?