Providing nutrition education to community-dwelling older persons

Mun Yee Mimi Tse, Vanessa T C Wan, Rose S M Heung, Iris F F Benzie

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

Abstract

Aims To help community-dwelling older persons increase their knowledge and awareness of nutrition intake in daily living and engage with their health status through six consecutive weeks of a Nutrition and Lifestyle Program (NLP) in elderly community centers. Background. In Hong Kong, older persons aged 65 or above comprised 13.0% of the total population in 2010; this is expected to increase to 28% of the total population by 2039 (Census and Statistics Department, 2010). Because of the growing number of older persons, the healthcare system may be better focused on prevention than treatment. According to a report from the Census and Statistics Department (2008), about 90% of older persons (85,571 out of 852,796) were living in domestic households, and the rest were living in institutions with residential care in 2006. The ageing population is increasing worldwide. Nutritional education is necessary for community-dwelling older persons since they are at high nutritional risk due to functional and cognitive decline in the aging process, diet-related chronic illness and poverty. According to the food policy in Hong Kong, nutritional labeling was commenced on 1st July 2010; older persons may require basic knowledge in food choices and adequate food to maintain optimal nutritional status. Methods and Intervention. The Nutrition and Lifestyle Program (NLP) was conducted in association with the elderly center in the community. Twenty-five community-dwelling older people from the elderly centre were invited to join the 6-week NLP, which covered nutrition and common chronic illness among the elderly, the food pyramid of basic nutritional needs, identifying healthy and unhealthy snacks and food (e.g. those high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and salt), meal planning, nutritional labeling, and encouraging physical activity. The NLP started with collecting demographic data (age, gender, health condition, educational level, financial situation and religion), in addition to information related to diet and exercise habit, basic nutritional assessment including calculation of Body Mass Index (BMI), measurement of mid-arm circumference, and collection of data in regard to food preferences. Outcomes and Conclusion.As expected, results showed that older persons can enhance their nutritional knowledge. They can empower themselves with such knowledge in their daily living, thus reducing their nutritional risk and achieving better disease management through diet therapy. After the NLP, the older people had significantly increased their meat and fluid intake (p< 0.05). In addition, there was an increase in their consumption of fruits and vegetables, although the improvement was not significant. Besides the improved nutritional intake, physical exercise was significantly increased too (p<0.05). It seems that at last it is possible for the elderly to retain their health and enjoy their life in the community rather than in the care of an institution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNutritional and Physical Education
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Pages101-118
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781612095837
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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