Healthy AgingBirth, infancy, first words, first steps, first day of primary school, graduation from university...Time goes by quickly. First love, first job experience, the excitement of marriage, starting a family... a baby enhances the joy of a family. Raising a child, career goals, saving money, and life's day-to-day struggles... Happiness, sadness, bitterness, excitement, disappointments, and many other emotions...plenty of people and events...Ages that seem to never come with the maturity and wisdom that life brings. Old age: the time to make the most of life and enjoy being a grandparent!
According to 2014 data from the Turkish Statistical Institute, 8 percent of Turkey's population is aged 65 and above. It is estimated that this percentage will increase to 20.8 percent by 2050. According to 2012 data, Italy, Germany, and Greece have the oldest population among the countries of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Turkey ranked 46th on this list.
Aging can sometimes leads health problems. Activities that were once easy now end with fatigue and weakness in the muscles. An inactive lifestyle and an unbalanced diet are hidden behind statements like, "I was 48 kilos the day I got married." In Turkey, 63.5 percent of the population aged 65 and above have problems as overweight or obesity, while 21.1 percent have difficulty walking and going up and down stairs. Healthy aging begins with a healthy lifestyle from childhood. According to a 2010 National Turkey Nutrition and Health Survey (TNHS), consumption of minerals such as protein, omega-3, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and zinc is low among 65-year-olds in Turkey. If we consider that nutritional needs according to age, we can provide our elderly population a healthier and better quality of life with minor innovations.
We must provide them with balanced, diverse, nutritious diets.
If there are dental problems, we should encourage them to consume small portions at frequent intervals.
We must limit the consumption of salty and fired foods to support their weight management
We must exercise with them regularly so they can increase muscle strength and overcome problems that typically come with age, such as bone fractures. Their daily routine should start with short walks with the grandchildren or physical exercise that can be done while sitting. Calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, and dark green leafy vegetables should be included in their diet.
At this age, they may have some problems with their digestive system. For example, very spicy food may irritate the stomach. We must reduce the consumption of these foods. We should encourage them to consume optimal servings of fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, which can support digestive system and help to prevent constipation.
Body water content decreases with aging. The elderly must consume at least 2 liters of fluid per day. We must distribute freshly squeezed fruit juices, ayran, cacık, milk, and most importantly, water, and encourage them to drink it throughout the day.
If they have hypertension or cardiovascular disorders, they should reduce their intake of salt and salty foods. We should also help them include foods rich in potassium, such as bananas and apricots, in their diets.
If we think that family is the main source of happiness for 71.4 percent of Turkey's population, we should definitely stand behind healthy and balanced meals for the elderly.
- İstatistiklerle Yaşlılar, Turkish Statistical Institute, 2014.
- Keep fit for Life: meeting the nutritional needs of older persons. WHO, Tufts University School of Nutrition and Policy, 2002.
- EUFIC: Active and healthy aging: the importance of nutrition to add healthy life years. September 2014.
- Turkey Nutrition and Health Survey, 2010, General Directorate of Health Research, Ministry of Health, Turkey, http://beslenme.gov.tr/content/files/yayinlar/kitaplar/diger_kitaplar/beslenme_rehberi.pdf, September 29, 2015
- Yaşlılıkta Beslenme, Prof. Neslişah Rakıcıoğlu, Ph.D. Hacettepe University Research and Application Center of Geriatric Sciences (GEBAM), http://www.gebam.hacettepe.edu.tr/oneri/YASLILIKTA_BESLENME.pdf
- Türkiye’ye Özgü Besin ve Beslenme Rehberi, Hacettepe University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2015.