Maintaining your overall health and wellbeing is essential for healthy ageing and a key component of a multifactorial falls prevention strategy. Alongside the impact of existing co-morbidities, diet, medication intake and cognitive ability can influence falls risk.
- Keep an up-to-date list of your medicines. Note the use-by date and the reason why you are taking them.
- Book a medicine check or a home medicine review with your GP or Pharmacist.
- If you have been taking sleeping tablets for longer than two weeks, please ask your GP about a gradual reduction plan.
- Do not share medicines with others. Mixing medicines can increase side effects.
- Ask your Pharmacist to organise your medicines into a dosage administration aid or Webster Pack, so you know which medications you need to take and when.
- Pay attention to how your body and mind feel. If you notice any changes such as feeling dizzy, drowsy, depressed, or in pain, please speak to your GP.
- Keep your brain active to improve your reaction time and alertness to hazards. Try activities such as puzzles, reading and home repairs.
- Playing games with your grandkids or joining social groups are fun ways to keep your brain alert.
- Challenge your mind often by trying something new.
- Drink alcohol responsibly.
- Don’t skip meals, and always eat breakfast.
- Eat with other people; eating meals with your family and friends keeps you well-nourished and mentally active.
- Cook with fresh, colourful ingredients – even frozen vegetables!
- Cook big batches of your favourite nutritious foods and freeze them – it makes for quick easy meals later on.
- Avoid adding extra salt to a meal; instead use herbs and spices.
- Drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning.
- Have a water bottle with you throughout the day.
- Take a water bottle with you when you leave the house, are working outside or doing any exercise.
- Always have a glass of water with meals.
- Reduce or avoid alcohol.
Calcium is required for normal bone development and maintenance of the skeleton. It forms with other minerals to make the bones hard and strong. Studies have shown that older people do not have enough calcium in their diet to maintain their bone strength and prevent bone loss, therefore placing people at increased risk of a fracture if they fall.
Foods that contain an adequate amount of calcium include:
- Milk and milk products
- Leafy green vegetables
- Soy and tofu
- Fish, especially canned fish like sardines and salmon
- Nuts and seeds, especially almonds.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium. We get vitamin D from some foods and sunshine, which helps our body to make its own vitamin D. Perth’s climate is considered optimal for preventing vitamin D deficiency; however a Western Australian study found people with reduced mobility, activity and exposure to sunlight had a high chance of being vitamin D deficient.
The following are all sources of vitamin D:
- Natural sun light
- Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel
- Fish liver oil
- Some dairy products
It is important to check with your GP regarding calcium and vitamin D supplements.
- Drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning
- Have a water bottle with you throughout the day
- Take a water bottle with you when you leave the house
- Have a water bottle present when working outside or doing any exercise
- Always have a glass of water with meals.
Australian Dietary Guidelines for eating when you’re older
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide three guidelines for older adults
Older adults should eat nutritious foods and keep physically active to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight.
You can use these calculators to estimate the amount of energy and nutrients your body needs as well as the average recommended number of serves.
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre veggies
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat
It's always good to limit saturated fats, added salt, added sugars, alcohol and low fibre choices for good health.
However older people are also more likely to be living with a chronic disease and part of their self management might involve careful attention to choosing foods. Sometimes though, limiting fats, added salt and added sugars can mean a person who is at risk of malnutrition, actually eats too few nutrients and kilojoules and can put themselves at risk. For some people it’s not straight forward and they need to talk to their health professional about the benefits and risks.
Older people can also find that they need to eat more high fibre foods and to drink more water to avoid constipation as bowels tend to slow down with age.
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