Articles and Information from GA Foods

Tips for Preventing Malnutrition in Seniors

Posted by John Siegel on Jan 27, 2016 10:48:43 AM

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John Siegel is the VP of Business Development for GA Foods.  He has extensive experiencworking with healthcare organizations to optimize benefits provided to their members. Contact John at 954-732-6886 or jsiegel@gafoods.com to learn how your organization may benefit by providing these well-received services.

It may seem unbelievable, considering the abundance of food in the U.S., but malnutrition is a very real problem among the elderly. It’s estimated that as many as one out of every four senior citizens suffers from poor nutrition. This can have a serious negative impact on health, from lowered immunity to slower wound healing and exacerbation of existing diseases. It can lead to loss of weight and muscle strength, making daily activities more difficult and increasing the likelihood of falls.

Seniors with poor nutrition make more visits to doctors, hospitals, and even emergency rooms, and their stays are almost twice as long as those of well-nourished patients. Healthcare professionals and other caregivers should be aware of the warning signs for sub-optimal nutrition as they are in an ideal position to coordinate solutions with family and other caregivers before patient discharge.

Warning signs of poor nutrition

Poor nutrition can be a result of many things, from difficulty chewing or swallowing to lack of money for buying food. Being aware of the situations that can lead to malnutrition, and the warning signs that a patient or family member is suffering from poor nutrition is an important part of senior care. If your patient or family member is experiencing any of the following issues, they may be at risk:

Decreased appetite – Reduced appetite is often part of the aging process itself. The ability to taste also declines with age, making food less palatable. Decreased appetite may be a side effect of certain medications, or a symptom of depression.

Unplanned weight loss – This is usually a loss of muscle, not fat. This may be as obvious as the numbers on the scale when the person is being weighed, or you may simply notice that clothes are too loose.

Difficulty swallowing or chewing – Loss of teeth, poorly fitting dentures, or mouth pain can all cause difficulty when eating. This may also be a symptom of cognitive issues.

Chronic illness – Those on special diets for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc. may need help with managing their diet. Special diets such as these may also exclude foods the patient prefers to eat and they may need help adapting their eating patterns.

Recent hospitalization – Lack of appetite is a common aftereffect of illness or injury. While still in recovery mode, the patient may not feel like eating or have the energy to cook.

Fatigue or limited physical function – For some, going shopping for groceries is too tiring. Going to the store, picking out foods, and bringing them home may require more energy than they have to give. Likewise, cooking a meal may be too exhausting for some. Age-related loss of muscle may limit their functional capabilities, putting both these activities beyond their reach.

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It may be difficult for those who are lacking food and most at-risk for malnutrition to ask for help, even when they have supportive friends and family; for those with no support system, the problem is even worse. They may feel that they have no options, or be ashamed of their situation. Opening a discussion and talking about the subject in a non-judgmental and unpatronizing way can be very beneficial. You can then suggest strategies for dealing with some of the more common food-related issues listed above, such as:


Eating several smaller meals per day, including snacks, and increasing activity to stimulate the appetite

Including favorite foods in meals

Using spices to flavor foods—particularly helpful for those with decreased sense of taste, or people who are restricting their salt or sugar intake

Asking family or friends to help with shopping or/and meal preparation—this may be a particular problem for those with limited support, and in some cases home health services may be available

Inviting family or friends over to eat once or twice per week—not only does this provide the opportunity to check in and keep tabs on the patient’s well-being, it also provides social interaction and helps stave off depression

Looking into home-delivered meal service—some health plans cover this type of service, and many home meal delivery services are free or charge on a sliding scale. You can use eldercare.gov to help locate services in your area. For information on how to receive home-delivered meals, click here. Providers offer varying levels of service, from one meal per day to several, and at different costs. GA Foods offers nutritionally sound “heat-and-eat” or shelf-stable senior meal options.

Caring for the elderly is a community effort. Those in caregiving professions play an important role, not just in healthcare, but in making sure that the day-to-day needs of one of our most vulnerable populations are met—and adequate nutrition is high on the list of day-to-day needs.

 If you are a health plan or other health care organization
and want more information, click below:

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Chronic Disease Management, Senior Health, Food Insecurity, Food Security Impact

Senior Centers Impact Lives

Posted by Ritch Brandon on Jan 11, 2016 1:48:31 PM


We are so blessed.  Our team at GA Foods has the opportunity to serve some of the most grateful, needing, and loving people who are full of wisdom, spunk, and life.  We are regularly Junk_Mail_on_Vimeo.pngtouched by thank you notes, stories from our co-workers and the personal interaction we have with those we serve, particularly "our" seniors.  The following video is a beautiful window into the lives of those we love and serve.  

Be careful.  You will be moved.

 


98-year-old Mary moves us to tears

Mary is just like so many of the seniors we serve at congregate centers across the country.  She is, actually, one of the lucky ones who is not home-bound and unable to maintain the social bonds that senior centers provide to our sometimes forgotten neighbors.

 

If you were moved as much as we were, please share this post to remind others to visit their grandparents or support a local senior program.  


Do you have a story to share?

We would love to hear more stories about the impact your local senior center or Meals on Wheels program has had on a senior you know and love.  Please post any stories you are willing to share in the Comments section below.

Click here to learn more about GA Foods and how we nourish seniors.



 

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Topics: Senior Health, Food Assistance, Caregivers, Food Security Impact

How Food Assistance Programs are Helping Food Insecure Seniors

Posted by Terry White on Dec 30, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Terry White is an Account Executive at GA Foods. Formerly he has served as Secretary for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Executive Director for the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida, and Chief for the Division of Home & Community Based Services, Ohio Department of Aging.  GA Foods is privileged to have a team member with extensive knowledge in services for seniors.

The number of adults reaching retirement age is expected to increase significantly over the next generation. In fact, the number of older adults could reach 80 million by 2040.

While none of this is inherently problematic, seniors have special nutritional needs that, if not met, could result in significant health challenges. On top of that, millions of seniors around the country are food insecure. In other words, they don't have reliable access to an adequate amount of food to meet their daily nutritional requirements. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that in 2014 a total of three million households with seniors (age 65 and older), and over one million seniors living alone, were food insecure.  

Aside from nutritional deficiencies tied into food insecurity, seniors who are food insecure have much higher rates of depression, heart attack and asthma. The really concerning thing about all this is that the number of food insecure seniors is anticipated to rise sharply as the entire baby boom generation nears retirement age over the coming decade.

How Did We Get Here?

A large share of seniors are struggling with poverty - the most recent Census data indicates the number of seniors battling poverty is approximately 10 percent, or 4.6 million seniors nationwide.Food_Assistance_Programs.png

Those below the poverty line in general are at a much higher risk of being food insecure, but when you add on top of that age-related health problems and functional impairments, you really start to appreciate why food insecurity among seniors is such an issue.

Food insecurity can be a problem for seniors even if they have the money to purchase food, as they might be lacking other resources and thereby remain food insecure. For instance, seniors who are food insecure might not have reliable transportation or a driver's license to make it to the grocery store on a week-to-week basis.

Senior Food Assistance Programs

There's a lot of research out there showing a strong connection between seniors, food insecurity and a lack of nutrients vital to good health (e.g., quality proteins, Vitamin B12 and magnesium). As you can see, there's an increasing need for food assistance programs to address this multifaceted problem. Here are some available options:

       Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

Food insecure seniors can boost their overall health and get more access to essential vitamins and minerals through the senior farmers' market nutrition program. This program gives grants to seniors so that they can get fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers' markets, roadside stands and community agriculture programs.

      Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

The commodity supplemental food program is a great option to take for seniors aged 60 and older who are food insecure. This program is specifically tailored to provide low-income, food-insecure seniors more nutritious USDA foods. There's a huge selection of fruit, vegetable and dairy options available to seniors through this program.

http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/fdd/household-material-fact-sheets

    Administration for Community Living

The Adminstration for Community Living provides congregate meals as well as home-delivered meals and other nutritional services for seniors facing food insecurity. This is essential because food-insecure seniors were more than twice as likely to report average or poor health compared to other seniors. Food assistance programs aim to close that gap. To find a nutrition program near you, go to eldercare.gov.

Health and Psychological Benefits of Home-Delivered Meals

Research out of Brown University also shows that home-delivered meals can offer psychology benefits to seniors receiving them. This means that home-delivered meals are providing quality nutrition to seniors while easing the loneliness that many face.

The National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) reports that 92% of home delivered meal recipients say meals allowed them to remain in their homes. Allowing seniors to age in place is cost-effective and improves the well-being of seniors. Home-delivered meals are increasing access to quality nutrition for low-income seniors and helping to put a stop to senior food insecurity.

If you'd like to read more about seniors and hunger, read this article.

Home-delivered meals improve health outcomes of seniors. Download our free ebook to learn more:

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Topics: Food Assistance, Food Insecurity, Food Security Impact

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