As the population of seniors over age 85 is increasing, researchers have set about trying to determine which lifestyle habits like diet can increase the chances for well-being and living independently without disabilities for the aging population. A group of researchers theorized that getting enough protein in the diet could protect seniors from disabilities and they set out to prove this and turned out to be right.
Results of a study carried out in the UK by researchers from Newcastle University that were published November 1, 2018 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that adults age 85+ who consumed higher amounts of protein had better muscle function, which helped to lower their chances for disabilities.
The Participants in the Study
The participants in the study were 722 community-dwelling seniors aged 85, who lived in two cities in the UK.
Activities Necessary for Independent Daily Living
The researchers defined disabilities as being unable to perform 17 activities necessary for independent daily living. The participants were tested at the beginning of the study and at 18, 36 and 60 months after the study began. The researchers note that some disabilities like not being able to cook a hot meal, shop for groceries or having problems with chewing and swallowing could lower protein intake by the participants.
The 17 Daily Activities Assessed by Questions to the Participants in the Study
Are you able to get in and out of bed?
Are you able to sit down on and get off of a chair?
Are you able to get on and off the toilet?
Are you able to dress and undress yourself?
Are you able to wash your face and hands?
Are you able to wash yourself all over?
Are you able to cut your own toenails?
Are you able to feed yourself?
Are you able to cook a hot meal?
Are you able to shop for your groceries?
Are you able to do light housework?
Are you able to do heavy housework?
Are you able to manage money?
Are you able to manage your medications?
Are you able to go up and down stairs/steps?
Are you able to get around the house?
Are you able to walk 400 yards (370 meters)?
The mobility limitations were defined in four ways:
AT1=constant very low disability
AT2=low disability increasing to mild disability
AT3=mild disability increasing to moderate disability
AT4=moderate disability increasing to severe disability
How to See if you are Getting Enough Protein
A review of this study published by Science Daily suggests that seniors use the online calculator by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine whether they are getting adequate protein in their diets and also other essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals. This is also an easy way to learn what your body mass index is.
Short or Long-term Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing
If you or your loved one need to go to a short or long-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing residential facility, make sure there is a qualified dietitian on the staff.
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing
The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York has a Director of Nutrition who is a dietitian and a Director of Dietary Services who work together with their expert chef to prepare healthy and delicious meals.
Seniors should make sure they are getting adequate protein in their diets, as this may keep their muscles in good shape and prevent them from getting disabilities.