Dieting doesn’t seem to matter for some seniors

Q: Grandpa George always tells me, “When you are 88, you ought to be able to eat anything you want. Besides, I wouldn’t even know how to fix that healthy stuff.”

I disagree with his dietary choices because his mobility is getting worse as he gets heavier and he’s taking fewer evening walks because he says he doesn’t feel like walking. We won’t shrink Grandpa, but shouldn’t he try to slow his weight gain?

A: First things first: Grandpa George should see what his doctor thinks and you could consider going with him to voice your concerns if he’s OK with the idea.

As far as healthy meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, errands and other in-home services, Grandpa George also could consider checking into a CAREGiver from the local Home Instead Senior Care office. And, yes, shrinking Grandpa through a strict diet might not only be a challenging feat, but also might not be worth the struggle.

Putting those age 75 and older on an overly restrictive diet to treat their excess weight and other conditions appears to have little benefit, according to researchers at Penn State and Geisinger Healthcare System. Diets high in sugar and fat may not affect the health outcomes of such seniors, the researchers have said.

“Historically people thought of older persons as tiny and frail,” said Gordon Jensen, head of the department of nutritional sciences at Penn State, “but that paradigm has changed for many older persons. “Currently, 30 percent or more may be overweight and by 2030, almost 30 percent are projected to be obese, not just overweight. Recent reports even suggest that there may be survival benefits associated with overweight and mild obesity status among the elderly.

“The (study) results suggest that if you live to be this old, there may be little to support the use of overly restrictive dietary prescriptions, especially where food intake may already be inadequate. However, people who live on prudent diets all their lives are likely to have better health outcomes,” Jensen said.

There’s one more way a CAREGiver might improve Grandpa George’s life: companionship. A CAREGiver could help rekindle his interest in exercise by walking with him while perhaps following a doctor’s plan to get him back on the move.

For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or visit

DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg.