National Nutrition Month

March 11, 2016 - Serving Seniors

March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus on making informed food choices.  This year’s theme, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” encourages people to take time to enjoy flavorful foods while appreciating the social experience of sharing a meal with other people.

For older adults, the benefits of a healthy diet include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems.  Eating a selection of fruit, green vegetables, and fish and nuts with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

These tips can help seniors maintain a healthy diet and stay active and independent:

  • Drink plenty of liquids – Aging can cause people to lose their sense of thirst.  Drinking lots of water or other low-fat or fat-free beverages will ensure seniors stay hydrated.
  • Eat your vegetables – Include a variety of different colored vegetables to brighten your plate.  Most vegetables are a low-calorie source of nutrients and a good source of fiber.
  • Try softer foods – People with dental problems find it difficult to chew fruits, vegetables, or meats.  Instead of missing out on much needed nutrients, try softer foods like cooked or canned unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soups, or canned tuna.

Seniors also benefit when they make eating a social event.  Congregate meals promote better physical and mental health.  Meals are also more enjoyable when you eat with others. Serving Seniors provides breakfast and lunch 7 days a week at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center and 5 days a week at 9 congregate dining sites in San Diego County.  Click here for more information of our senior nutrition program.

Aging Successfully for All San Diegans

March 1, 2016 - Serving Seniors

It’s a goal that most everyone wants to reach: living successfully during our “golden years.”  Aging successfully refers to physical, mental and social well-being in older age. Yet for many seniors, these years are not so golden. With the increasing number of aging Americans — every 8 seconds a baby boomer will turn 65 until 2030 – we need to be prepared to address a multitude of growing issues.

How do we age successfully? Factors that enhance successful aging include financial security, physical wellness, interactions with family and friends, and a sense of purpose to get up each day. This is a formula we can aspire to achieve, but it is a challenge when living on a fixed income, when family and friends are miles away, or when physical issues prevent getting basic services.

For many seniors, aging becomes more of an exercise in survival than in living comfortably during their golden years. The California Elder Index documents the cost of living for seniors is a minimum of $1,943 per month to cover housing, food, health, transportation and other costs. However, many seniors live on about $850 per month. Some seniors are forced to choose whether to pay rent or buy their medicine and food.

Consider this: by 2030, the population of seniors in San Diego will increase by 75 percent to 929,766 people.  That’s nearly one million people who will be aiming to age successfully. If your birthdate falls before 1971, you will be in this population of one million.

Now, consider that 41 percent of San Diego County’s senior population lives below the self-sufficiency level. At the projected rate of aging adults, we will soon have an epidemic-sized crisis of aging adults who cannot meet their basic needs.

Successful aging begins with successful service.  Quality care can be coordinated in one place to offer housing recommendations, mental health services, legal advice, financial literacy skills, volunteer opportunities, wellness services, dental services and more. Serving Seniors is one organization that is leading the way in providing a best practices model for care-coordinated service delivery to seniors. With the collaboration of partners in health, education, government and philanthropy, Serving Seniors is improving the lives of thousands of seniors every day.

The need for services will persist as more adults age. Aging successfully requires a community effort to embrace innovative approaches that offer solutions.  Please join our efforts in advocacy, philanthropy or collaboration to make the golden years accessible to all seniors. Because by 2030, many of us will be one in a million.

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