EVMS symposium focuses on nutrition for the elderly

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If you think getting kids to eat healthy is hard, try getting your parents to do it.

Nutrition in our golden years was a hot topic of conversation Wednesday at Eastern Virginia Medical School.

“Telling older individuals what’s good for them will not succeed … showing them what looks great and works well will succeed,” said Dr. Robert Palmer, director of the EVMS Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology.

He says we all eat first with our eyes, and even the most set in their ways will try something that looks beautiful.

On the other hand, eating too little can get ugly.

“If you lose too much weight, you lose muscle, a condition we call sarcopenia — that means you’re at greater risk for falls for loss of self-care abilities  and even horrible institutionalization, nursing home,” Dr. Palmer added.

So how do you know if someone is undernourished?

10 On Your Side asked guest expert Dr. Wendy Bazilian, founder of Bazilian’s Health Clinic in San Diego, California.

She said sometimes people might just seem tired or confused.

“It may be a bigger issue, and it needs to get checked out, but it also may be as simple as not eating readily enough, frequently enough, or the right nutrition.”

Don’t worry though,  Dr. Bazilian isn’t telling you to get rid of your ice cream or burgers.

Her advice: put more on your plate.

“Is there a fruit or vegetable at your breakfast, lunch and dinner? If it’s not there, add it .”

 High-quality proteins are key for older adults, and so is good company, Dr. Palmer said.

 “We all are social animals  and we’re more likely to eat and participate in social activities over food.”

So if you’re worried about someone, invite them to dinner and make it look good.

EVMS is rolling out new programs for its medical students focusing on nutrition and is working on plans to educate the community as well.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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