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Senior Health: Serving a Mediterranean Diet for Thanksgiving

Eating healthy should be a priority no matter what your age or health condition. Of course, during Thanksgiving, we are all tempted to indulge a little more than we would on a normal basis. Imagine if we were to reverse that thinking and made a more conscious effort to eat better during the holidays? If you’re preparing this year’s big feast, think about serving a mix of foods that align with a more healthy diet. For instance, if you’re caring for an elder adult, or an Alzheimer’s patient, you might want to consider a Mediterranean diet.

Studies have shown, as reported by ABC news, that a Mediterranean diet is great for preventing stroke and dementia. In general, the diet has exceptional nutritional value, with benefits that keep the body healthy and improve mental cognition at the same time. The American Academy of Neurology studied brain scans of those who exhibited various degrees of commitment to the Mediterranean diet. Those who stayed with the diet were 36% less likely to have infarcts – strokes in the brain that usually don’t produce any symptoms.

Another study by the American Academy of Neurology shows that the Mediterranean diet can improve the long-term health of Alzheimer’s patients. A focus on high fruit and vegetable consumption as well as low meat consumption seems to create benefits for mental and overall health.

So how do you infuse a bit of Mediterranean in your thanksgiving meal? First, if you’re a caregiver for a loved one, give them a few options and ask them what they prefer. It could be as simple as adding a salad to the meal, or trying a new and healthier way to prepare the stuffing.  A quick search online will offer new ideas for side dishes and entrees. You may find that your efforts will encourage healthier eating habits for everyone at the Thanksgiving table, including yourself!

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to Visit our For The Caregiver page for more information and resources.


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