Nutrition is recognized as a major determinant of successful aging, contributing to the three key factors that define aging well: Low risk of disease and disease-related disability, high mental and physical functionality, and active life engagement.
Community Support Connections, a Waterloo-region based not-for-profit, operates their Meals on Wheels program with the principle of nutrition as its backbone, ensuring that every one of their meals provides 40% of the daily nutritional intake for an adult male. More than providing delicious entrées, they also recognize how the enjoyment of nutritious meals helps improve overall health and emotional wellbeing, and also avoids premature and inappropriate admissions to hospitals or long-term care.
It is more than just an operational philosophy: They have witnessed the results first-hand.
The organization relates that a holiday incident several years ago reflects the profound impact proper nutrition can have on older adults. After a trip home from the holidays, the daughter of one of their clients discovered her mother had been falling and fainting due to not eating properly, and began searching for a long-term care home, placing her on Meals on Wheels in the interim. Within six weeks, the daughter called the organization’s office, stating excitedly that she had regained so much strength, they were no longer shopping for a home: They were instead shopping for a walker, so she could go back outside in the spring. The daughter credits Meals on Wheels and its volunteers’ visits for “bringing the brightness back to my mother’s eyes.”
Proper nutrition bears ramifications across your lifestyle, with dramatic increases in energy levels leading to a greater capacity for activity, physical and social. When you are properly nourished, you will feel more physically able to complete the activities of daily life, and are also enabled to become more connected – more energy means translates to a greater ability to socially engage, or get out and about in your community.
Fostering a nutritious diet remains one of the most effective means of aging well, and contributing to a healthy lifestyle.
For Community Support Connections, helping older adults maintain their nutritional balance lies at the core of caring for their community in their homes.