May might be Older Americans Month, but the non-profit organization, Nourish America, has developed a program that reaches out to seniors to promote senior health year-round by working with leading national and local organizations that benefit seniors. Recognizing that today’s seniors are working longer, whether at an outside job or in the home, often in a caregiving capacity for a grandchild or for an older loved one who needs help, Nourish America knows it’s more important than ever to help seniors stay healthy longer. Key to senior health is prevention—making preventive health information and resources available.
Maintaining health through nutrition and exercise—mental and physical–is the best way to ensure senior health and avoid medical issues that can limit your ability to live well as you live to an older age. Michael Morton, executive director of Nourish America, has seen a marked increase in the number of seniors facing physical ailments, depression and loss of the needed energy to stay active in life. To address the increased need for senior health support, Morton co-founded the Nourish America Senior Health Project. Offering free community education events, Nourish America provides seniors with the knowledge and tools they need to maintain their own health. “Through a combination of outreach activities and no-cost distribution of an all-natural immune health supplement, we’ve had some success at helping seniors stay healthy,” says Morton.
Based on feedback from the outreach efforts, Nourish America offers the following simple tips to help seniors maintain quality of life through illness prevention while maximizing independence:
- Get your whole grains. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a mere 18 percent of Americans 60 and older meet the dietary recommendations for daily grain intake. “Nourish America is based on the knowledge that well-nourished people have fewer illnesses,” says Morton. Seniors can easily add more whole grains into their diets through a wide variety of easy-to-prepare everyday foods, including brown rice, bran flakes, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and popcorn.
- Adopt a pet. “I’ve noticed that seniors living alone sometimes experience a sense of isolation, which can lead to feelings of depression,” Morton reports. Studies show that when seniors establish an owner-pet relationship, their feelings of loneliness dissolve and the pet-related activities such as walking, feeding, grooming and playing improve their overall well-being as they stay active.
- Get the most out of getting out. Run a shopping errand, participate in social dialogue with others and get some exercise by walking around a favorite shopping area. Staying active, both physically and socially, is a key element to a healthy lifestyle. Morton reminds seniors that if transportation is an issue “some local authorities offer free or reduced bus fares for senior citizens and travel tokens for people with disabilities.”
- Take stock of your medications and supplements. One out of five hospital admissions for elderly patients is related to an adverse drug reaction or negative effects of taking too many medications. “Before a doctor’s appointment, remember to place all of your prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements in a bag and take them with you,” Morton advises. Your doctor should know what you are taking and the pharmacist can check the labels on the bottles and boxes and let you know if some might be harmful when taken together.
- Activate your mind. Keep your mind working by doing crosswords, solving word scrambles or tackling Sudoku puzzles. “The old adage, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’ especially applies to seniors’ brain health,” Morton says.
Nourish America is an award-winning 501(c)3 organization committed to
improving the health of those in need through the supply of high-nutrition products such as multivitamins, calcium supplements, nutritional supplements and nourishing food. Each day, Nourish America supports the nutrient intake of 30,000 children, 34,000 low-income seniors and 12,000 National Guard men and women across the United States. Nourish America also provides nutritional support to evacuees, victims and emergency workers during domestic disasters. Nourish America has received high ratings four years in a row for its fiscal management from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading charity watchdog organization. Independent audits of Nourish America’s finances show that more than 94 percent of all donations go directly to programs and those served.