Explaining senior nutrition in lay terms

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In 5 seconds

A group of University of Montreal students is starting a project that will share tips on healthy eating to help independent seniors in retirement homes enjoy the benefits of good and healthy nutrition

What information do seniors in retirement homes need to make healthy food choices? Which nutritional topics interest and/or confuse them? How can information influence behaviour?

A group of students from UdeM’s Nutrition and Communications departments will attempt to answer these questions in the initial phase of a major nutritional knowledge transfer project.

Starting this summer, the project’s first stage will develop nutrition education resources for some 700 independent retirees at the Sélection Retraite Rosemont complex, who were surveyed about their nutritional concerns and questions last December.

Calcium and protein topped the list of topics the seniors would like to hear about this summer. So the students will produce multimedia content such as educational posters, infographics for the screens at the residence, and social media videos on subjects such as the role calcium and protein play in bone health and the food sources from which they can be obtained.

“For example, the seniors may learn that the body needs more protein as it ages, or that, to support sustainable development, we can gradually shift our food choices away from animal proteins without compromising calcium or protein content,” said nutritionist and project coordinator Anne-Marie Villeneuve.

Collaboration and sustainability

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Since accessible nutrition education is at the heart of this initiative, a master’s student in Communications has been enlisted to help with the project’s communications and dissemination strategies, including how to summarize and present the information. The goal is to develop straightforward and reliable tools tailored to the needs of Sélection Retraite Rosemont’s residents.

At the same time, the nutrition students will have the opportunity to hone their skills in promoting senior autonomy and health through nutrition. They will also benefit from the seniors’ knowledge and wisdom, since the content will be co-created with retirees.

Plans call for teaching staff and students from other departments, such as Occupational Therapy and Kinesiology, to join the project’s next phases.

This interdisciplinary project will also promote eco-friendly values: “We’ve outfitted one of the apartments at the residence with what will be a zero-waste kitchen,” said Villeneuve. “We’ll hold community cooking workshops there and the food will be donated to UdeM’s food banks. Starting in the fall, eating locally will be our key messaging theme.”

More on the project

This project was made possible by a $630,000 donation from Groupe Sélection for the establishment of a fund to support nutrition for healthy aging.

For now, the Sélection Retraite Rosemont residence is the project’s hub but the goal is to develop tools, activities and knowledge that will benefit all Quebec seniors.

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