Catholic Charities Program Encourages Proper Nutrition for Seniors

NEW ORLEANS (press release)  — As part of the aging process, people often experience loss of appetite, lack of taste and smell, and decreased socialization. All of these factors, along with chronic conditions and certain medications, can affect their nutritional health.   

At the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly in the Greater New Orleans Area along with PADUA Homes, nutritionists and other staff work with clients to monitor their nutrition habits and keep them as healthy as possible.  

In observance of National Nutrition Month in March, ministries of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO) are calling attention to the importance of seniors and other clients developing healthy eating habits.  

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Heidi Gereighty, LDN, RD, says a number of general dietary choices help people maintain good nutritional health as they age, These include:  

  • Adequate fiber—whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice; 
  • Zinc and vitamins B and D levels—eat green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, along with carrots, broccoli and peas. 
  • Brightly colored fruits—blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples 
  • Added supplements—people over 50 often need Vitamin D supplements; Check with a medical provided first. 
  • Reduced red meat consumption—less beef and more chicken, fish or seafood; 
  • Variety of proteins—eggs, lean meats, nuts, beans or soy products; 
  • Hydration—to maintain digestive and overall health, drink plenty of water; 2% milk, juice, tea or decaffeinated coffee can help with hydration but avoid soft drinks. 

“As we age, we may be eating less and losing weight because we simply forget to eat,” said Gereighty. “There could also be dental issues that cause them pain when they eat. If so, they may need to visit a dentist or add softer foods to their diets. 

A person’s nutritional health can also be impacted by a decline in their cognitive health, particularly if they are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  

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The Padua House is another program at Catholic Charities that strives to give those living with disabilities a quality of life. The Padua community homes provide the following:  

  • Specialized medical care 
  • Pharmaceutical services 
  • Dietary consultation 
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy 
  • Psychological services 

Gereighty along with the PACE and Padua Services team carefully watch for signs of grief, depression and anxiety that affect nutrition habits. The loss of a spouse or being isolated from friends during the pandemic can affect diets.  

“Eating is a very social habit, particularly here in New Orleans. That’s why we like to see our PACE and Padua clients in the day center dining and socializing with others,” she said.   

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She encourages family members and friends to monitor their loved one’s dietary habits but without being obtrusive and judgmental. They can pack individual meals servings for their peers, offer to take them grocery shopping and include them in plans for dining out.  

Anyone interested in more information about the PACE GNO program and Padua Community Services requirements can visit 

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