Healthy Eating for Successful Living among Older Adults
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Healthy Eating for Successful Living among Older Adults

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Developed by: Lahey Clinic
Program Administrator: National Council on Aging in partnership with Dr. Robert Schreiber; contact: JenniferRaymond@hrca.harvard.edu
Year Program First Implemented: 2006

Overview:

Healthy Eating for Successful Living in Older Adults is program for diverse community-dwelling adults age 60 and older. The overall goal of Healthy Eating is to increase self-efficacy and general well being by improving participants' knowledge of nutritional choices that focus on heart and bone healthy foods as well as supportive physical activities. Goal setting, problem solving and self-monitoring are used to optimize individual behavior change. This program was developed in partnership by the National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging, the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts and Hebrew Senior Life in Boston. The program is undergoing revision at Tufts University.

Supporting Evidence:

In developing the program, a Regional Advisory Panel was charged with identifying evidence-based interventions that improve the nutritional status of older adults. An extensive review of the literature conducted by the Panel revealed limited published evidence on community-based interventions with successful outcomes. Healthy Eating was developed using components of five evidence-based programs that targeted change in overall diet or several food groups, demonstrated positive outcomes with older adult participants, are implemented in group settings, and have program implementation manuals for ease of dissemination and replication. These program include: Body and Soul Program (Resnicow, et al. (2004)); Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (Pierce, et al. (2004)); Computer-assisted Intervention to Decrease Consumption of Fat and Increase Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables (Stevens, et al. (2003)); Nutrition for Older Adults' Health (University of Georgia, Department of Foods and Nutrition); and Partners in Wellness (North Carolina Nutrition Network).

After reviewing the literature, the Panel noted the following commonalities of successful programs, and suggested they be included in the Healthy Eating program:

  1. Basing the program on an active-learning model, including participant involvement with self-assessment of nutritional status and food-related behavior;
  2. Focusing on behavior change, based on appropriate behavioral theory and research;
  3. Using communication and education strategies to enhance awareness and motivation for maintaining health and function;
  4. Using interpersonal and personalized counseling/education to address participants’ specific concerns;
  5. Incorporating social support from family and peers;
  6. Providing opportunities for social interaction;
  7. Limiting messages;
  8. Learning how to read food labels;
  9. Using a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist in a key supportive role; and
  10. Encouraging participants to track physical changes – biochemical markers, changes in weight, and ability to do activities.

Reference:

Healthy eating for successful living in Older AdultsTM, Model Health Program Toolkits, National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging, 2006. Support with funding by John A. Hartford Foundation.

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