Diet in the golden years

Published 8:09 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sometimes it just takes going back to basics.

Such is the case with many caretakers of senior citizens.

In the midst of running errands and making doctors’ appointments, sometimes the most basic need can be ignored: eating a balanced meal.


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“Brining in proper nutrition creates a better life and a healthier life for the seniors that these caregivers are taking care of,” said Larry Neal, who along with his wife, Nell, runs Home Instead Senior Care here in Suffolk. The Neals are finishing up a three month-long program, “Cooking Under Pressure” that aims to educate seniors and their caretakers about the importance of reevaluating their nutritional intake.

Throughout the summer, the Neals gave presentations at local nursing homes and senior centers and provided literature for caregivers about things they should begin adding into the seniors’ diets.

For example, as people get older, they should increase calcium and nutrient strong foods such as oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, blueberries, apples, fish, dark chocolate, broccoli and sweet potatoes in their diets.

Additionally, the Neals have a free handbook and a specially designed Web site ( for caregivers to access.

Nell Neal said research has shown that 60 percent of family caregivers report their senior has three or more nutritional risks to be aware of (including prescription medicines, illnesses or allergies).

“We just brought to their attention the importance of creating proper diet and nutrition, in spite of all those risks to make sure that their bodies are strong,” Nell said. “This was a good review and a way for caregivers to ask questions.”

According to a Home Instead Senior Care press release, there are more than 5,400 households in the Suffolk area that are currently caring for seniors. The Neals said talking about proper nutrition for seniors is just another aspect of their role in Suffolk providing quality care for senior citizens.

“It’s just one of the things that we do,” Larry said. “We try to educate ourselves on things that are going to improve seniors’ lives, and this area is just one aspect of it.”

For more information or to receive copies of the program’s materials, call Home Instead Senior Care at 255-9070.