Hunger and the Elderly
The average life expectancy for Americans is now 78.8 years. For women, it’s even greater (81.2 yrs.). As we live longer, it makes sense that we would want to age with good physical, mental and emotional health for as long as we can. As we all recognize, growing older has its trials. While it is true that our population is living longer, there remain many challenges associated with managing physical, psychological and emotional wellness and ensuring greater quality of lifestyle. Surprisingly, hunger is one of the challenges that can affect all of this. For many older adults, the lack of food, state of mind, access, mobility and ability issues are all barriers to maintaining a healthy and nutritional diet. Of course, older adults that don’t receive a healthy, nutritional diet are more likely to have a much lower intake of vital nutrients and are to report poorer health.
There are several reasons, poverty being at the top of the list. Numerous federal, state and local programs are in place to assist with ensuring that the elderly receive nutritious meals. Though programs like SNAP and Meals on Wheels are designed to reduce the percentage of seniors dealing with hunger, it’s not always enough. In 2011, it was reported that Over 27% of older adults living in poverty were at risk for hunger. (National Foundation to End Senior Hunger). Further, at the end of 2012, North Carolina ranked 5th in the country for percent of seniors facing the threat of hunger, 20.08% up 18.8% over the previous year.
Though poverty is the most critical link between the elderly and lack of food, there are other factors as well. Seniors may have access to food but may not have the mobility necessary to prepare food for themselves and their loved one. Additionally, many older adults tend to gravitate towards foods that have little or no nutritional value, such as fast and processed foods. According Lynn Wells, owner of Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef Service, many older adults’ lose their sense of taste—food doesn’t taste as good anymore which can affect their enthusiasm and attention toward their diets.
With that in mind, we have partnered with Lynn and Thyme Well Spent, a local and affordable way for our clients that are unable to meet their own nutritional needs to receive the services they need. Thyme Well Spent offers a range of services to clients including personalized comprehensive assessments to determine food preferences, dietary restrictions, food allergies or other specific needs. She will develop a meal plan for you and will schedule a cook day at your convenience.
Personal Care Inc. is committed to the fight to eliminate hunger by helping by creating paths and ensuring that our clients and others don’t go hungry. We serve over 100 clients throughout the seven county region and are especially mindful of the goal to maintain good health and nutrition for our clients. Through our nutritional assessments to all of our clients and our new partner Thyme Well Spent, we hope to not only help our clients stay in their homes but live a healthier lifestyle as well.
Improving our diets, exercising, spending time in prayer or meditating, laughter and companionship are ways to ensure that we are at the top of our game longer. What are you doing to improve your lifestyle as you age?