There are a number of ways you could work with Grandma to retain her strength and reduce the likelihood of falls.
1. Encourage her to eat enough protein foods
- We lose muscle as we age and a good protein intake supports the growth and maintenance of our muscles.
- Older people require more protein than younger adults
- Eat protein foods across the day (include them at each main meal).
- Eating foods fortified with protein is a great way to increase protein intake.
- Try to encourage Grandma to eat a protein-based snack food or milk drink within 30 minutes of completing exercise, this will improve the protein uptake from these foods and help build new muscle.
2. Support her to eat sufficient amounts of calcium rich foods
- Calcium helps bone strength and not having enough can put an older person at risk of fractures.
- Good sources of calcium to include in her diet are: dairy products, especially fortified milks, cheese, yoghurt etc.
- Eating 3 servings of dairy products a day is recommended. Below are examples of how big a serving size is.
- 250ml of calcium fortified milk. Serving contains; Protein: 14g, Calcium: 470mg
- 150g yoghurt tub. Serving contains: Protein: 6g, Calcium: 190mg
- 40g piece of cheese. Serving contains: Protein 10g, Calcium 300mg
- Calcium is absorbed better when taken in foods rather than in dietary supplement form.
3. Maintain good balance and muscle strength
- There are now accredited community based exercise programmes for older people, available throughout New Zealand. Exercises used at these programmes are proven to prevent falls and fractures in older people. Ask your doctor or the local Age Concern office what is available in your area
By Kaye Dennison (NZRD)