Keys to nutrition in senior living

Stephanie Simmons serves as director of dining services at Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo. In honor of National Nutrition Month, she’s sharing why nutrition is important for senior adults.

Why is nutrition a priority in senior living?

As we age, our appetites decrease. A decreased appetite can lead to struggles such as weakness, weight loss and a lowered immune system. Well-rounded nutrition significantly decreases a senior adult’s risk for these and other health issues.

What impact does nutrition have on senior adult wellbeing?

Good nutrition builds strength and adds energy so we can maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, the more active we are the happier we are!

What goes into choosing a menu for a senior living community?

I love creating menus for the dining program here at Buckner! We work with fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients including fresh vegetables, fruits and proteins to design a diverse array of options for every palate.

How do you balance home-cooked favorites with adequate nutrition?

The dining team and I talk regularly with residents. We often ask them to submit some of their favorite meals, maybe that they ate growing up or cooked for their families. We then recreate these favorites in a healthy way and pair them with different choices of fresh side vegetables.

What are the top foods a senior adult should make sure to eat?

Lean proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium are top of my list for nutrients senior adults should eat on a regular basis. You can get all these easily in foods like fish, eggs, nuts and spinach.

What success stories have you seen of residents who start getting proper nutrition at a community?

Baptist Retirement is an active community, and residents stay active by eating properly. Many residents here have improved their overall health simply by making a few minor changes to their diets.

What one thing can senior adults do to improve their nutrition?

The single best thing to improve nutrition is to not overwhelm yourself with trying to eat a large meal. Focus on eating more frequent, smaller amounts of food rich in nutrients and proteins.

For a preview of the Buckner Retirement dining experience, check out this short video.

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