Healthy Eating for a Healthy Retirement
There are many factors that combine to make for a healthy retirement. The importance of staying physically active in retirement has been well documented as it plays an essential part in maintaining strength, flexibility and endurance – all vital components in helping retirees prolong and preserve their independence. Staying socially active is as important to health as staying physically active. Older adults with a fulfilling social life tend to avoid many of the physical, cognitive and emotional difficulties that those who are isolated encounter. Consistent social interactions keep people mentally, physically and emotionally fit. However, there is one factor that is vital in making the others all possible: a healthy diet. Nutrition has a huge impact on the physical health and wellbeing of those in their retirement years.
Without considering healthy eating, you cannot fully benefit from a rewarding and engaging retirement as you increase your risk of a range of health issues. As you age, the number of calories needed to consume per day reduces while the amount of good quality nutrients required to maintain good health increases – which makes it trickier to ensure that the optimal vitamins and minerals are consumed as you are typically eating less. This in turn makes it all the more important to choose foods which are rich in nutritional content. Poor nutrition can put those at retirement age at risk of a number of health issues which could interfere with a happy and contented retirement. A poor diet increases the chance of developing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Additionally, nutrient deficiencies can affect mobility, weaken bones and muscles and can contribute to cognitive issues. Retirement communities, such as those operated by award-winning LifeCare Residences, fully understand the importance of healthy eating for their residents and not only provide delicious meals in their chef-led restaurants, they do everything possible to cater to their residents’ special dietary needs. This is exemplified by the fact that their teams across all their communities in the UK have an in depth understanding of the International Dysphagia Diet Standard Index (IDDSI) – a global standard to describe texture modified foods and thickened drinks for individuals with swallowing difficulties.
This enables them to modify dishes to suit individual requirements, ensuring all residents are able to enjoy a meal that is nutritious and to their personal taste.
Important nutrients for retirement
Eating a balanced diet, which supplies all the necessary nutrients for health, is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Greater amounts of specific nutrients are required to help keep the body and mind strong during retirement – such as minerals for strong bones and fibre for a healthy digestive system. In addition, it’s also important to eat balanced amounts of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates, as well as lots of water to stay hydrated. Daily consumption of vital nutrients and minerals can have a significant impact. Protein is necessary for tissue growth, repair and maintenance and despite the need for fewer calories as we age, it’s important to eat an adequate amount of protein each day. Mealtimes in retirement communities can provide one of the most important activities of the day because they allow residents, if they so choose, to not only socialise but also to get their required nutrients. The team at award-winning and internationally renowned retirement community operator, LifeCare Residences, ensures that all their chef-led meals are well-balanced – and all include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Going that extra ‘food’ mile
All LifeCare Residences’ communities go the extra mile to ensure that residents benefit from delicious and nutritionally optimal meals. At Somerleigh Court in Dorchester, Dorset, the team has set up a home delivery service for residents with an emphasis on locally sourced and local farm produced products. This also includes providing fresh fish – high in essential oils and fatty acids – caught from the local coast, just ten minutes away. The team at Somerleigh Court has also put together ‘food passports’ which helps to ensure that all staff are familiar with the likes and dislikes of each resident, and most importantly to accommodate special dietary requirements. For those residents craving a satisfying ‘cooked’ meal, the in-house chef at Somerleigh Court is able to create delicious meals such as hearty roast dinners and fresh fish and chips. All these are delivered direct, and fresh to residents’ apartments.
At Grove Place – a beautiful retirement community set in 27 acres of tranquil, rural Hampshire countryside the team approaches healthy eating for residents with a very simple philosophy; keep it fresh. It is well known that fresh fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They contain essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients that are essential for good health. Research has shown that a healthy diet, rich in fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. The team at Grove Place takes this seriously and aims to use as many fresh ingredients as possible, keeping menus simple and allowing the produce take centre stage. The team also works closely with their suppliers to develop the weekly menu, ensuring the majority of the offering is produced using seasonal product. The British Nutrition Federation also reinforces the message that people should eat fruit and vegetables that are in season as they have a higher nutritional content as vitamins degrade over time and with storage – so the fresher the better. At Grove Place, all food suppliers are located within a 40-mile radius, including the local family butcher. Residents at Grove Place also benefit from enjoying the seasonal fruit and vegetables grown in the dedicated kitchen garden. Home-grown leeks, onions, herbs, red chard and even rhubarb are regularly found on the menu. The main health benefit of this home-grown food is that it’s fresher. Fruit and vegetables begin to lose their nutrients within 24 hours of being picked. In addition, home grown or locally grown food is picked at its peak ripeness, when its most dense with nutrients.
Eating healthily has become even harder for those of retirement age during the recent Coronavirus pandemic as the elderly are encouraged to shield and stay at home, let alone worry about queuing in the cold at the supermarket. At Battersea Place – the first luxury retirement community in London – residents are able to take advantage of the delicious food on offer at the onsite chef-led restaurant which offers an impressive room service menu, featuring nutritious, freshly prepared favourites that change every day. The room service provision is extremely popular with the residents at Battersea Place as they can order throughout the day, whether it’s a tasty and nutritious meal or a quick pick-me-up coffee and cake. The restaurant is also on hand to help cater for those who have members of their support bubble visiting. With lockdown in place, smaller households may be holding back on the traditional Sunday Roast – but residents at Battersea Place are a phone call away from ordering a hearty Sunday lunch treat to enjoy during these trickier times. As with the other LifeCare Residences communities, the team at Battersea Place is keen to feature locally produced ingredients on the menu which helps to create healthy, better-tasting and more nutritionally balanced dishes. The onsite care team is only too happy to re-heat home cooked, family meals that have been dropped off by a family member, such as a nourishing chicken soup, which are then delivered to the residents’ apartments for them to enjoy a taste of home cooked family goodness. The onsite restaurant is one of the most popular amenities at Battersea Place. One resident adds, “That’s the other lovely thing here – having a restaurant … I arrived home at 7pm and thought oh no, I’m going to have to defrost something from the freezer. But of course, I didn’t, I just popped down to the restaurant and had a lovely meal.”
If you would like to learn more about our offering and how we can enhance the ‘every day’ please call T. 0800 009 6950.
For those who are unable to visit in person, we are also able to offer virtual tours of our communities at your convenience.