Healthy Eating Improves Psychological Health in Seniors Who Struggle to Walk

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Growing old and its impact on mental health

Growing old is completely natural, despite the fact that it causes many emotional changes in people. These may be characterized by diminished mental capacities such as memory loss and forgetfulness, which can be remedied by eating brain-boosting foods. People aged 65 and up increased by around 12.4 percent, from 35.0 million in 2000 to 49.2 million in 2016. (The United States census Bureau, 2017). This has been blamed on the baby boomers, who began reaching 65 in 2011. According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (2017), seniors that are independent experience lower levels of depression and the condition affect 1 out of 5 percent of the group. However, for senior citizens requiring home assistance 13.5 percent experience depression while about 11.5 percent of hospitalized seniors suffer from depression (CDC, 2017). Depressive symptoms indicate general wellbeing and mental health in senior citizens as with older women being affected more than men are. In 2014-2016, 15% of American women aged 65 and above showed depressive symptoms compared to 10% of men in America. Poor nutrition is a big issue for older adults as about 6 percent of those admitted in hospitals that are above 65 years are malnourished (Older Americans, 2016)). This can lead to prolonged stay in hospitals, high mortality, as well as increased readmission rates. Senior citizens who have trouble walking and struggling to sustain life due to low income are vulnerable to malnutrition. Senior citizens with trouble walking are likely to suffer psychological trauma due to unhealthy diet, thus there is need for promotion of healthy eating and nutrition among the elderly to promote psychological wellbeing.

Challenges of poor nutrition in senior citizens

Senior citizens face several challenges including poor nutrition due to their low incomes and confinement in their residences. Studies indicate that people that have access to quality and healthy foods are better nourished, possess high energy, and show fewer depression symptoms (Robinson, Sutin & Daly, 2017). Those that have mobility challenges due to old age, arthritis, frail bones, or injuries leading to disabilities are greatly affected. They may not be able to go to the market to purchase healthy food items such as vegetables and fruits or attend to nutritional clinics for advice without assistance. Poor nutrition can lead to poor health including psychological issues. Some psychological health concerns at the age of 70s and 80s are associated with decline in cognitive functioning or memory losses caused by underlying problems such as dehydration, malnutrition, or sleep problems (Older Americans, 2016). Eating healthy and adequately can resolve such health problems in senior citizens such as memory loss in which one experiences mental lapses, which can interfere with daily life. Trouble sleeping is also common, as many older adults may not get enough sleep especially at night. Others will have excessive sleep during daytime interfering with days' activities including meal times. Preparation of simple and healthy meals is quite recommended in older adults although they must be balanced. They should contain fruits, vegetables, and groceries, which can then be prepared correctly to avoid nutrients loss. Diet planning through the help of a nutritionist is very important to allow inclusion of all nutrients. The nutritionist can offer advice on foods that are vital in promotion of psychological wellness.

The impact of depression on senior citizens

Old age is associated with depression, sadness, and loneliness thus senior citizens need a lot of attention and care. Depression is a problem that affects more than 6 million individuals aged 65 years and above. It can lead to reduction in quality of life as well as mental suffering for affected people. Those faced with mobility challenges are at a greater risk of psychological illnesses since they may be unable to prepare meals properly, as they have to depend on others. Home assistance means that one has to depend on others for basic tasks such as food preparation. The good thing is that depression is treatable through healthy diet via nutrients restoration in the body. Vitamin C plays a vital role in psychological wellbeing as studies reveal that people that suffer from hypovitaminosis C show signs of depression and fatigue (Pearson et al., 2017). Senior citizens may fail to get enough vitamin C especially the ones that are immobile and find it difficult to go to the market to buy food items. Vitamin C is very important for brain functioning and its deficiency may lead to cognition problems. For this reason, senior citizens require to eat foods rich in vitamins such as green leave vegetables, fish, and fruits to boost their memory. Preparation of food for the elderly is important to ensure that it contains all necessary requirements for psychological wellbeing. Anorexia is common in aging population due to reduced appetite and can affect even those that are not sick. Inadequate nutrition may cause nutrient deficiencies accompanied by weight losses causing health effects such as dehydration, oral health issues, and bone fractures. It may also cause poor recovery from sicknesses and memory loss among others.

The impact of obesity and overweight on psychological wellbeing

Obesity and overweight in senior citizens can be a source of psychological problems such as stress and depression. Senior citizens with mobility problems in addition to being overweight face greater challenges if they are overweight. Individuals suffering from obesity experience poorer quality of life due to concerns with body image, low self-esteem, and low self-confidence. Overweight individuals face stigma since they are prejudiced by the society, which have a negative effect on the psychological well-being of senior citizens (Robinson, Sutin & Daly, 2017). Many find it difficult to have self-acceptance while others develop other illnesses that can lead to stress, depression, insomnia, and isolation. Prevention of obesity requires proper diet to ensure that the body functioning is not disrupted. Being old, obese, and immobile compounds the problem leading to increased levels of depression. The senior people need to eat food rich in vitamins and roughages as well as balanced diet to keep health. In addition, they should avoid fatty foods, which can lead to accumulation of fat causing health problems. Excessive weight is a major cause of other life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases. These can cause a lot of psychological distress in individuals since they have to live on life-sustaining drugs. For the seniors that cannot afford the cost of such treatment they can experience high levels of stress and other mental problems. Overweight people due to poor dieting also experience sleep problems due to conditions such as sleep apnea, which may be caused by accumulation of fat on the neck (Robinson, Sutin & Daly, 2017). Lack of sleep can be very disturbing and cause one to become moody or aggressive towards others. Senior citizens must be advised on the importance of eating healthy to ensure quality psychological health. They must avoid eating junk foods, fizzy drinks, and sugary foods that can lead to increased weight other fatal conditions. Foods such as alcohol or other drugs should be avoided since they cause harm to the health of the elderly individuals. Healthy eating is very important to senior citizens for their well-being and should never be ignored.

The connection between malnutrition and psychological wellbeing

Research shows that people that suffer from malnutrition have the poorest psychological wellbeing such as cognitive impairment. The elderly require nutritional care to ensure that they live quality lives in their end days. Some elderly people eat very little due to poor appetite, which can affect their brain functioning once it is deprived of energy and other vital nutrients (Pearson et al., 2017). The psychological health of individuals depend on the quality of food they eat thus dieting habits of the senior citizens should be observed especially by caregivers. Psychological wellbeing can be assessed by the senior citizens' satisfaction with their lives, plans for their future, the level of loneliness, and other signs that can depict psychological problems. If individuals do not suggest anything that show that they are satisfied with the kind of life they are living, then they must be experiencing issues with their psychological health. Nutrition can be one of the solutions to such problems since it ensures that the individuals are well nourished. Studies also reveal that there is a strong relationship and correlation between malnutrition and depression in the senior citizens. For instance, those in institutions for the elderly suffer depression more than the ones at homes. However, psychological issues may be due to malnutrition and inadequate proteins in their bodies (Pearson et al., 2017). Psychological disorders that face the senior citizens may also include lack of concentration, hyper-insomnia, lack of appetite, weight loss, suicidal feelings, a feeling of worthlessness, and sad mood among others. These disorders can be treated with proper nutrition such as vitamins, hydration, and other nutrition supplements. Some elderly individuals experience pessimism feelings about the future and self-blame affecting their health and need quality foods to cure some of the symptoms. Some factors that may lead to malnutrition in the elderly include monotonous foods, poor food presentation, poor cooking methods, and unavailability of quality foods.

The importance of positive aging and nutrition

Positive ageing can lead to improved psychological wellbeing on individuals since it helps in maintaining positive attitude. The senior citizens may feel good about themselves especially if they can keep fit and healthy, and engage fully in life. Several changes occur during the old age and quality nutrition can help the senior citizens to live healthy. Those that have mobility challenges need a healthy diet with vitamins and other vital nutrients that help in physical strength. This will help in promoting positive thinking and improve overall psychological wellbeing. Stress can develop in the elderly individuals struggling economically and financially as they try to meet their needs. These include quality food that are vital for brain functioning to promote positive thinking, reduce memory loss, and ensure high self-esteem. Eating healthy diets is vital for ensuring healthy weight, which can assist in reducing the chances of developing lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes and others that can result to poor psychological health. Senior citizens need to observe nutrition standards to ensure quality life in their end days. Challenges facing senior citizens in America require effective planning by the government to ensure provision of quality care such as through insurance.


CDC (2017). Center for Disease Control. Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older. Healthy Aging.

Older Americans (2016). Key Indicators of Well-Being.

Pearson, J. F., Pullar, J. M., Wilson, R., Spittlehouse, J. K., Vissers, M., Skidmore, P. M. ... & Carr, A. C. (2017). Vitamin C Status Correlates with Markers of Metabolic and Cognitive Health in 50-Year-Olds: Findings of the CHALICE Cohort Study. Nutrients, 9(8), 831.

Robinson, E., Sutin, A., & Daly, M. (2017). Perceived Weight Discrimination Mediates the Prospective Relation between Obesity and Depressive Symptoms in US And UK Adults. Health Psychology, 36(2), 112.

The United States census Bureau (2017). The Nation's Older Population Is Still Growing, Census Bureau Reports.

April 19, 2023



Aging Goals Illness

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