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Health and Wellness for Seniors

 January is the perfect time to start a healthy lifestyle. Caregivers can help seniors maintain health with proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle habits.

Healthy Eating After 50

1,600 to 2,800 calories/day, depending on physical activity and weight.

  • Fruits | 3–5 servings (one serving = one small peach, ¼ cup dried fruit, ½ cup sliced apples)
  • Vegetables | 2–4 cups leafy vegetables (spinach, kale)
  • Protein | 5–7 servings lean protein (one serving = one egg, ¼ cup cooked beans, tbsp peanut butter)
  • Grains | 5–10 servings (one serving = one small bran muffin, ¼ cup brown rice, 1 slice whole wheat bread)
  • Dairy | 3 servings (one serving = one cup milk, one cup yogurt)
  • Oil | 6–8 servings (one serving = ¼ cup avocado, 1 tsp olive oil, 8 olives)
  • Sugar & Solid fats | Keep to a minimum (chips, cookies, animal fats)
  • Eat fish 2x per week.
  • Drink plenty of liquids including water, milk, soup & juice.
  • Limit caffeine & alcohol intake.


It is extremely important for seniors to practice good nutrition. Poor nutrition affects the body, but also affects the mind, energy levels, and can lead to other health issues. The more caregivers know about nutrition for seniors, the better they will be able to care for them.

Tips to making meals and snacking easier:

  1. If the person has a hard time using a knife and fork, serve finger foods. Try bite-sized pieces of sandwich, meat, or cut-up fruit or veggies.
  2. Serve one or two foods at a time. Too many choices can be overwhelming.
  3. If chewing or swallowing is a problem, mash, puree, or moisten foods with broth, sauce, or milk.
  4. Add flavor to meals with spices and herbs.
  5. Put out bowls of nuts and fruit to encourage snacking.
  6. Serve nutritional supplement drinks or smoothies with protein powder and fruits.


As a person ages, some nutrients become more important:

  • Fiber to stay regular
  • Potassium for blood pressure and to help avoid fatigue and depression
  • Healthy fats to lower chances of heart disease
  • Vitamin B12 for energy and brain function
  • Vitamin D and Calcium for bone health

Vitamin and Mineral Intake Guidelines for Seniors

  • Vitamin B12—2.4 mcg (micrograms) daily. Some foods, such as cereal are fortified with B12. Up to one-third of older adults can no longer absorb natural vitamin B12 from food.
  • Calcium—1200 mg (milligrams), but not more than 2500 mg per day. As people age, they need more calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong. Bone loss can lead to fractures in both older women and men.
  • Vitamin D—400 IU (international units) for people ages 51 to 70 and 600 IU for those over 70.
  • Iron—Men and postmenopausal women need 8 mg of iron per day. Extra iron may be necessary for women past menopause who are using hormone replacement therapy. Iron helps keep red blood cells healthy.
  • Vitamin B6—1.7 mg for men and 1.5 mg for women daily. B6 is needed for forming red blood cells and to keep overall health.


Benefits of exercise in older age

Increases mental capacity Research links physical activity with slower mental decline. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including our brain.

Prevents disease Exercise is beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise can also delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more.

Improves healing Injuries can take longer to heal as people age. Regular exercise may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25 percent.

Increases balance Exercise can help improve balance, which can help prevent falls. Falls are a major cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disability and hospitalization in older adults.

According to the AARP, 40% of people between 45 and 64 are considered sedentary. At age 64 and older, that number jumps to 60%.

Home Care Tip:

Many seniors will not want to grocery shop alone or cook food for just themselves. Work grocery shopping into part of your time together and prep meals so they can easily prepare a meal for one on their own.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.