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Nutrition and aging, ice cream social and more
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

As we age, we lose lean body mass. The most significant result of the loss of lean body mass may be the decrease in basal energy metabolism. Metabolic rate declines proportionately with the decline in total protein tissue. To avoid gaining weight, we must reduce calorie intake or increase activity. The goal is energy balance. Loss of lean body mass also means reduced body water — 72 percent of total body water is in lean muscle tissue. Conversely, total body fat typically increases with age. This often can be explained by too many calories. As we age, fat tends to concentrate in the trunk and fat deposits around the vital organs. However, in more advanced years, weight often declines. Finally, we lose bone density. After menopause, women tend to lose bone mass at an accelerated rate. Recent attention has focused on the high incidence of osteoporosis. Calorie needs change due to more body fat and less lean muscle. Less activity can further decrease calorie needs. The challenge for the elderly is to meet the same nutritional needs as when they were younger, yet consume fewer calories. The answer to this problem is to choose foods high in nutrients in relation to their calories. Such foods are considered “nutrient-dense.” For example, low-fat milk is more nutrient-dense than regular milk. Its nutrient content is the same, but it has fewer calories because it has less fat. Protein absorption may decrease as we age, and our bodies may make less protein.

However, this does not mean protein intake should be routinely increased, because of the general decline in kidney function. Excess protein could unnecessarily stress kidneys. Reduced overall fat content in the diet is reasonable. It is the easiest way to cut calories. This is appropriate to reduce weight. Lower fat intake is often necessary because of chronic disease. About 60 percent of calories should come from carbohydrates, with emphasis on complex carbohydrates. Glucose tolerance may decrease with advancing years. Complex carbohydrates put less stress on the circulating blood glucose than do refined carbohydrates. Such a regime also enhances dietary fiber intake. Adequate fiber, together with adequate fluid, helps maintain normal bowel function. Fiber also is thought to decrease risk of intestinal inflammation. Vegetables, fruits, grain products, cereals, seeds, legumes and nuts are all sources of dietary fiber. Vitamin deficiencies may not be obvious in many older people. However, any illness stresses the body and may be enough to use up whatever stores there are and make the person vitamin deficient. Medications also interfere with many vitamins. When drug histories are looked at, nutrient deficiencies emerge. Eating nutrient-dense foods becomes increasingly important when calorie needs decline but vitamin and mineral remains remain high. Even though absorption and utilization of some vitamins and minerals becomes less effective with age, higher intakes do not appear to be necessary. As for any age group, it’s important to enjoy a wide variety of foods.

People of all ages need more than 40 nutrients to stay healthy. With age, it becomes more important that diets contain enough calcium, fiber, iron, protein, and the vitamins A, C, D and Folacin. Reduce calories, select nutrient-dense foods, and enjoy smaller portions of foods high in fat, sugar and sodium. Because no one food or pill provides all of the nutrients, eat a variety of foods to get the full spectrum of nutrients. (This information has been provided by the Colorado State University Extension Office.)

Pancake breakfast

We hosted over 90 people of all ages at our pancake breakfast fund-raiser at the senior center. We would like to thank everyone for their support, and we look forward to seeing even more of you at our next breakfast on July 30. More details to follow in the next few weeks.


Did you know studies show that people who volunteer one to two hours a week are healthier, live longer, and are more satisfied with their lives? We are looking for outgoing, friendly, volunteers to deliver meals to our homebound seniors on Tuesdays. If you are interested, contact Julia or Musetta at 264-2167 or stop in at The Den.

Weekly activities at The Den

Friday, July 3 — Center closed for holiday.

Monday, July 6 — Gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; canasta, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, July 7 — Gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Meditation for Healing, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, July 8 — Dance for Health, 10 a.m.; Take the Right Step, 11 a.m.-noon; ice cream social, 12:30 p.m.; Ageless Yoga, 1-2 p.m.

Thursday, July 9 — Administrative day.

Friday, July 10 — Geezers, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; San Juan Mountains Association presentation, 12:45 p.m., Archuleta Seniors Inc. (ASI) board meeting at the senior center, p.m.

Ice cream social

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

The Den will be hold an ice cream social Wednesday, July 8, after lunch. We will provide the ice cream for 50 cents and you bring your favorite topping to share with everyone to add to the fun.

SJMA presentation

In a world of changing climates, southwest Coloradans need to conserve water wherever we can. Learn more in this presentation from the San Juan Mountains Association on Friday, July 10, at 12:45 p.m. There are many ways to help conserve this precious resource. You may practice a few already, but you may learn some that you never imagined.

Emergency plan

As part of the Archuleta County Emergency Plan, the Silver Foxes Den Senior Center is creating a list of people of all ages that may need assistance in the event of an emergency such as a blizzard, power outage, flood, etc. Folks on oxygen or an electric dependent health system should be on the list as well as anyone with a disability, which could make it difficult for them to evacuate. Please remember to keep a flashlight with fresh batteries handy, as well as extra food and warm clothes — and to also have a phone available other than a cordless model. If you think you may be in need of assistance during an emergency, contact Julia at 264-2167. Don’t delay, be prepared today.


Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, and Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served at noon.

Friday, July 3?— Center closed for holiday.

Monday, July 6 — Bratwurst and sauerkraut, pickled beets, peaches.

Tuesday, July 7 — Parmesan chicken, parsley potatoes, squash, waldorf salad.

Wednesday, July 8 — Hot turkey sandwich, mashed potatoes, asparagus, pineapple and banana.

Thursday, July 9 — Administrative day.

Friday, July 10 — Thai chicken, fettuccine, green beans, peaches.