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 [email protected] 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.

Minimizing malnutrition among the elderlySeniors.png

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

Aging in Place: Home-Delivered Meal Options

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Dec 2, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Aging in place allows seniors the benefit of remaining in the familiar environment of their own home and maintaining more independence. While assisted living centers and nursing homes provide security and medical care for those who need it, aging in place is a better option for many. Resources like meal delivery help seniors remain independent at home for as long as possible. Here is what you should know about meals for seniors.

prepared_meals_for_seniors_LR.pngNutrition and Senior Health

Although most seniors need fewer calories than their younger counterparts do, the nutritional quality of their diet should increase. With age, the body has more difficulty absorbing nutrients, and this means older adults are more prone to malnutrition. In addition, many health issues, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, will worsen if the diet is poor.

Prepared meals for seniors can provide balanced nutrition to facilitate better health and well-being. Many older adults who suffer from fatigue or mobility problems find it difficult to continue cooking nutritionally balanced meals on a daily basis. In the absence of wholesome delivered meals, some resort to eating processed foods that are easier to cook but are high in sodium, sugar and fat.

Decreased appetite is also common in the elderly and can make cooking a meal feel like an unwelcome chore. These seniors might be tempted to skip meals unless meals are delivered directly to the home.

Special Diets

When choosing meal delivery, consider any special dietary needs. Program options vary from location to location, even with well-known meal delivery organizations, so make sure to ask which dietary options they offer. Most can accommodate seniors with low-sodium and low-sugar dietary needs, but not all supply special diets for other health issues or for religious and ethical dietary needs. Discuss the options with many delivery services to see which service is the best fit.

Home_Delivered_Meals_LR.pngDelivery Options

The number of daily meals required influences the delivery options and providers you should choose. Seniors who only need one hot meal a day and can make their own sandwich or breakfast at other times might wish to choose a program like Meals on Wheels.

Other options include programs that periodically deliver a selection of heat-and-eat meals, like our SunMeadow® brand frozen and shelf-stable meals. These are prepared meals that can be heated in a microwave at the senior’s convenience. Unlike processed meals from the grocery stores, these specially prepared meals for seniors are nutritionally balanced.

Cost

Cost of prepared meals for seniors varies, but many programs offer the service on a sliding scale basis or for free. Free home-delivered meals are available through various agencies, including those commonly referred to as Meals On Wheels. Program participation criteria vary from state-to-state and, sometimes, between different case management offices based on their funding requirements and plan design.

To identify the agency that can determine your eligibility,
call 1-800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov. On the eldercare.gov site, interested individuals can search for services by location based on zip code or city and state. We recommend searching based on zip code, particularly in large metropolitan areas who may be served by multiple agencies. Locate agencies listed in the search results that have “Nutrition Programs” or “Home Delivered Meals” in their description. Contact those agencies directly and request home delivered meals service from GA Foods.

The more a senior has access to healthy foods and all of life’s necessities, the easier it will be to age-at-home. For more information on choosing a home-delivered meals provider, download our free ebook:

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health

Winter is Almost Here...Tips for Preparing Your Aging Parents

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Nov 19, 2015 1:52:17 PM

agingparent_LR.jpgWith winter just around the corner, it's time to start preparing your aging parents for inclement weather, particularly if they live in another city or state. When a winter storm hits, your parents may not have easy access to meals or other essentials. Here are some tips for long-distance caregivers:

Stock Up with Shelf-Stable Meals

Every state in the nation (including Florida and Hawaii) experiences potentially dangerous winter weather. Winter storms frequently catch people unprepared. Be sure your parents have the essentials on hand. Stock up on canned items (or any foods with long shelf lives that can be kept in the pantry) and paper goods (no one wants to run out of toilet paper in a blizzard!) If you
don’t live close enough to your parents to help them stock up, you can order these necessities
snow_deliver.pngfrom companies like Amazon and have them delivered directly to them.

You may also want to sign up for a meal delivery program that assists seniors. These programs will deliver meals to your family members, even in bad weather. Select a program that provides shelf-stable meals as an option, in the event of severe weather, when roads are closed and
delivery trucks can’t get through. (For more tips in selecting a home-delivered meals company, download this ebook.)


Other Emergency Supplies

Make sure your parents have at least a 7-day supply of their medications. Keep a list of their medications along with dose, frequency, and contact information for the prescribing doctor, as well as write the name and phone number for their pharmacy. It is also a good idea to keep back-ups of wheel chair batteries, oxygen, and other medical devices on hand. Include the information for those items on the back of the medications list.

petcare_LR.jpgDepending on the area your parents live, some other items that might be helpful are a flashlight and a battery-operated radio with extra batteries for both!

If your parents have pets, suggest that they stock up on food and medicine for their animals as well. Enlist the help of neighbors or a service that will take dogs out for a walk during severe weather, to make sure your parents do not slip or fall. Some cities have volunteer organizations that help seniors take care of their animals.

Involve Neighbors and Friends

Get the contact information for your parents’ neighbors and friends. During bad weather, it may be helpful for someone to check on your parents. You may also want to give them a key to your parents’ home. Ask them to make sure the heat is on and working, and they can also make sure there aren’t any fire hazards like a space heater near curtains or a fireplace that is improperly lit.

Caregiving from a distance is not any easy task. Find great information on strategies to build a supportive network in this article.

 

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health

Q&A about Salt and Low Sodium Meals for the Elderly

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Jul 30, 2015 1:52:00 PM

low-sodium-mealsNine out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium. Too much sodium is a health concern for all ages, but particularly for older Americans. Kidney function declines with age, so seniors have a more difficult time removing excess sodium from their bodies.  While the body needs an adequate amount of sodium to function, too much sodium can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.  

How much sodium should seniors consume?

Both the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend that seniors consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. 1,500 mg is equivalent to just 2/3 teaspoon of salt, so meeting this recommendation and finding low sodium meals can be a challenge.  

Where is sodium hiding?

Most of the sodium in meals for the elderly comes from added salt (sodium chloride), either during food preparation or at the table. In addition, seniors frequently eat canned and frozen convenience meals purchased from the grocery store or a food delivery company that is not focused on senior nutrition. Restaurant meals and frozen meals made by mass market producers tend to be loaded with sodium and should only be consumed in a limited amount.

Where can seniors find convenient yet healthy meals?

Many senior centers have nutrition programs that offer congregate meals. These meals are typically funded by the Older Americans' Act and are required to meet low sodium meal guidelines. If you or your loved one is able to travel, these centers often also offer classes, activities, and services designed specifically for older adults. Some centers request a nominal donation for meals.  Many of the centers and other programs, like Meals on Wheels, provide home delivered meals which also meet the same low sodium requirements.  To find a center, go to www.Eldercare.gov.

GA Foods is a provider of SunMeadow® brand frozen and shelf-stable (canned or non-refrigerated "pantry") meal delivery for many senior programs.  Not only are SunMeadow® meals low in sodium, they are also appropriate for those needing a healthy heart diet, diabetic diet meal plan, or diet for kidney disease. Not all food delivery companies are the same; many do not cater to the specific health needs of seniors. Be sure that you or the senior in your life consumes meals that are designed specifically for the special needs of seniors to avoid excessive sodium and ensure adequate nutrient content.

For more information about the nutritional content of SunMeadow® meals, click the image below:

Download Nutritional Information and Product Specifications

 

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Cardiac Diet, Sodium

Can the foods we eat impact our mental health?

Posted by Felicity Dryer on Mar 24, 2015 10:00:00 AM

headshot0112-1This week we welcome our guest blogger, Felicity Dryer. 

Felicity is a women's health and fitness specialist. She loves writing, and due to the recent illness of her mother, has taken interest in senior care. Please be sure to download her infographic about superfoods!

According to many studies, yes. Foods high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, have been shown to improve cognitive function and memory. And while such foods can have a positive effect on people at any age, seniors most notably can reap the benefits of certain foods as they are more susceptible to memory loss and cognitive diseases.

Let's take a look at some of the so-called "superfoods" that could fight dementia, Alzheimer's and similar disorders.

Nutrition for Our Brain Cells

Topping the list for brain power foods is the blueberry. This small fruit packs more antioxidants than any other fruit and vegetable. Most notably, the polyphenol antioxidant found so abundantly in blueberries has been shown to protect the brain from, among other things, inflammation and free radicals.

A 2007 National Institute on Aging study showed that rats on a blueberry-enhanced diet had significantly less brain loss than those on a controlled diet. Another study in the same year, presented by the Neuroscience Laboratory of the USDA-ARS Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, seemed to confirm that blueberry consumption led to a protection of brain nerve cells and improved communication between these cells. This could promote better brain function and reduce the likelihood of impairment.

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Another tiny yet powerful food is the chia seed. Chia seeds contain even more antioxidants than blueberries, which is good news for your brain. These antioxidants fight free radicals, which can cause damage to our body's cells--including our brain cells. These little seeds also have the omega-3 fats that are essential to brain health.

Other foods high in antioxidants and omega-3's that could help maintain brain power include:

  • Kale
  • Salmon
  • Avocadoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans (such as kidney and pinto)

Drinking Our Way to a Better Brain

There's not only "superfoods" but "superdrinks" for our brains as well.

Real acai juice can have a tremendous effect on memory and mental focus. Not only do acai berries contain antioxidants to destroy free radicals, they can also prevent the formation of plaque in the brain caused by beta-amyloid proteins, which have been shown to play a part in Alzheimer's.

Pomegranates are shown to decrease cholesterol plaque build-up; studies have shown that increased levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and subsequent plaque buildup is linked to Alzheimer's. One can reap the best benefits from pomegranates by drinking pomegranate juice. Also, both black and green tea have free radical-fighting elements that can keep our brain cells healthier.

And can't get enough of the health benefits of blueberries? Drink blueberry juice. Several studies have shown that older adults who drank blueberry juice daily improved their memory performance by as much as 20 percent!

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

About 40 years ago, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) used the above slogan in an effective ad campaign. The phrase can easily apply to dementia and related disorders.

Of course there are many factors that play a role in the development of Alzheimer's and other cognitive diseases, and it's certainly not suggested here that specific foods are a cure-all or a total preventative measure for Alzheimer's, dementia or mild cognitive impairment.

But if eating the right foods could help in any way at all to prevent or delay the onset of mental decline, it's certainly worth making the necessary changes to our diets to maintain not only our physical but our mental health as well.

Download full PDF of Felicity's Superfoods Infographic!SeniorSuperfood_FDryer_pdf

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Topics: Nutrition, Chronic Disease Management, Senior Health

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