To promote the well-being of the Filipino elderly, the first week of October has been declared as the Filipino Elderly Week in the country. October 5 was the date in Baguio City, Region I and perhaps many more places. Seven (7) Nutritionist-Dietitians took care of nutrition counseling.
Regardless of age, many clients verbalize living a healthy lifestyle which is most likely the primary reason for their long life and which everyone, including the young, should emulate. Most were well-nourished based on mini-screening tools by the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center nurses. Kudos to those who were not suffering from any disease hence had no maintenance medicine. They remained physically active, ate less of rice and alternatives, little of protein-rich foods especially meat, little of fat and sugar and processed meat and more of fruits and vegetables. Another one said she never ate a fast food product. Many however, were also on maintenance medications, the most common being anti-hypertensives. There were diabetics too, but surprisingly few with gout – all based on interviews. Could it be that many were unable to go out? Few tended to be anemic. I even encountered one who is in her 26th year of heart attack survivorship.
The elderly are actually faced with challenges of meeting their food and nutrient needs.
Socioeconomic conditions such as living alone, difficulties in mobility, insufficient finances, health conditions that make cooking or feeding self-difficult, decreased sense of smell and taste, swallowing difficulties, medicines which can affect taste, make mouth dry or decrease appetite and even absorption of nutrients. Be cautious of medicines and possible drug-nutrient interactions.
Good nutrition must continue throughout life to prevent the onset of nutrition-related problems or alleviate existing ones. As metabolic processes and physical activities decrease, a corresponding decrease in food intake has to be made among the elderly. Wide variety of soft, easy to chew and smaller bite-size foods given in small frequent feeding Fluid intake must not be ignored as dehydration is a big problem and hardly noticeable.
More importantly, individual assessment for the at-risk elderly needs to be done so the most fitting intervention can be suggested. My salute to the organizers of the event for the elderly! May such activities be sustained and may other LGUs follow.