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Mon, June 24

Good nutrition is within reach for seniors

Eating right is important for everyone's health. However, it is especially important for seniors. Good nutrition contributes to one's emotional and physical well-being. Research shows that brain health can be improved with good diet, potentially slowing the onset or progression of dementia. Eating right can also improve your immune system and help promote strong bones, decreasing the risk of illness, as well as falls, fractures and trips to the hospital.

No matter what level of independence a senior is at, there are options for good nutrition. Limited income or limited mobility can make shopping for groceries or cooking one's own meals difficult. However, regardless of whether you are fully mobile, homebound, or in need of assistance, there's little reason to suffer from poor nutrition.

Supermarkets have promotions to assist seniors via Senior Discount Days or other programs. Check with your local grocery store to see what they offer seniors to assist in achieving better nutrition. Some stores offer discounts on foods that are approaching their expiration date.

When eating out, patronize restaurants that offer senior discounts. Oftentimes restaurants will provide smaller, more manageable food serving portions with improved nutrition standards at a reduced price for seniors. Many restaurants offer discounted early-bird specials.

If a senior finds it inconvenient to eat at restaurants or to cook food themselves, consider special nutrition menus offered by some of the fast food outlets. Many offer senior discounts or discounts for veterans. These are sometimes not advertised, so be sure to ask.

Often, community or senior centers offer in-house dining facilities at a discounted rate for seniors or, alternatively, offer a food bank for seniors in need. The Adult Center in Prescott at 778-3000 and CASA (Central Arizona Seniors Association) in Prescott Valley at 772-3337 are two of the local centers that offer these types of services.

If you no longer drive, there are senior service in-home care businesses that can take you to the grocery store or go shopping for you. If you qualify as a homebound adult in the greater Prescott area, Chino Valley, Paulden or the Weaver Mountains, the nonprofit agency People Who Care offers this service for free. Contact them in Prescott at 445-2480.

If you can no longer cook for yourself, there are senior service in-home care businesses that can come into your home and cook for you, or prepare meals off-site and deliver them. You can find a list of companies that specialize in this type of service in the Senior Connection Resource Directory at www.SeniorConnection.us.

Meals on Wheels is a program for homebound seniors that provides daily hot meals, delivered by dedicated volunteers in the community. Nonprofit agencies presently host independent Meals on Wheels programs in the Prescott quad-city area. Contact NACOG (Northern Arizona Council of Governments) 877-521-3500 toll-free for more information.

Eating right is one of the best ways to contribute to your emotional and physical health. Don't let physical or financial obstacles get in the way of good nutrition.

Debbie Stewart is CEO of the Senior Connection. Her "Caregiver Connection" newsletter is a resource for seniors, caregivers and service providers. It includes information about support groups, meetings and services offered by local agencies, as well as articles on relevant topics. For a free subscription via email, contact Debbie@CaregiverConnection.us or call 778-3747. To view the current edition, visit www.CaregiverConnection.us.

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