May 2019 - Proportion Foods
Proportion Foods - Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

My title page contents

National Palliative Care Week – on death and dying

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on May 20, 2019 in Aging

“What matters most?” This is the theme for Australia’s National Palliative Care week from 19-25 May. It aims to encourage people to plan ahead as their life is nearing its end.


In doing so, it’s important to discuss care arrangements with loved ones and health professionals and consider what is most important.



What is palliative care?


Palliative care is family-centred support for someone who is approaching death with virtually no chance of being cured. The primary aim is to optimise quality of life, particularly in the final weeks and days.


It is “care that helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness,” says Palliative Care Australia. It can be given at home or in a hospital, hospice or aged care facility.


Importantly, it embraces individual needs on physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual levels. It also allows for the needs and bereavement of loved ones.


Services include relieving pain and other symptoms like breathing difficulties, facilitating discussions with family and friends, and providing counselling support and resources to assist care at home.


Palliative care involves a team of professionals who can cater for different needs, extending to referrals for home help, financial support and respite care services.


Health professionals might include a GP, aged care worker, cardiologist or other specialist who can provide support when symptoms become hard to manage.



Economic benefits


Not only is palliative care the most compassionate way to support dying patients and their families, it has major cost benefits as well.


Reducing needless hospital transfers and medical interventions can help patients receive quality support, dignity and respect, while making significant cost savings, according to Australian research.


Yet, while over a third of deaths occur in aged care facilities, only a small proportion of residents are formally assessed as needing palliative care.



The D-word


Talking about death tends to be taboo in our society. But we are all confronted with it at some stage. Embracing discussions about death is important to help people come to terms with their feelings about dying and how they want to deal with it.


Some groups are proactively creating opportunities for people to think and talk about death.


The organisation Portable says, “a good death is a human right, and we need to be able to articulate what this means for ourselves and communicate it outwards.” Achieving this, they advocate, will need a human-centred approach in policy and social engagement.


Death Café facilitates spaces where people can “drink tea, eat cake, and discuss death”. So far, they’ve held more than eight thousand cafes in 65 countries and provide opportunities for people to host their own.


The GroundSwell Project has created a “Dying to Know Day” on 8 August to help break the taboo and equip people “to care for themselves and each other through death, dying and loss.”


Through raising awareness and creating these discussions, grieving patients, family and friends will be freer to talk about how they feel, and people around them will be empowered to know what to do, say, or just comfortably be there for them.






Maturing gracefully in an aging population

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on May 11, 2019 in Aging

Globally, for the first time, there are more people over 65 than under five years of age. In Australia, the percentage of older people has tripled in less than a century and continues to grow.


These enduring global trends can largely be attributed to safer childbirth, fertility declines and improved medical treatments.


What implications does this “demographic time bomb” have for health and wellbeing?



Facts and stats


In 2017, 3.8 million Australians were aged 65 years and over, according to a survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. This comprises 15% of the population, compared to just 5% in 1937.


In the global scheme of things, that puts Australia about halfway between Papua New Guinea and Japan, countries with the smallest and largest proportions of older adults, respectively.


This growth is still in steep ascent, expected to reach 8.8 million older Australians by 2057 – more than one in five people – and 12.8 million, or one in four people, by 2097.


The profile of this older cohort itself is expected to shift upwards.


Two years ago, more than half of older adults were aged 65 to 74 while 13% were aged 85 and over. In less than 30 years it’s predicted that people in the 65 to 74 age bracket will drop while 20% of people over 85 will be alive.


This trend presents several social, financial and environmental challenges. Remaining healthy is an important means by which older adults can continue to contribute to the broader community’s social, cultural and economic fabric.



How healthy are we?


While nine in ten older adults said they can confide in someone outside their household and had access to support in times of crisis, their health behaviours do not look so encouraging.


Only two in five older adults reported being adequately active during the past week and seven in ten are overweight or obese.


Fruit and vegetable consumption didn’t fare too well either; like the rest of the population, less than one in ten older Australians reported eating the recommended serves of these highly nutritious foods each day.


And while one in eight people in this older cohort reported being engaged in employment, education or training, more than half reported experiencing stress – the most common causes being serious illness or loss of a loved one.



From challenges to opportunities


Ultimately, while researchers are on the hunt for ways to reverse aging, it is possible to stay healthy and productive while growing older. The Blue Zone regions, for instance, are home to record numbers of centenarians with low rates of chronic disease.


Some lifestyle factors they share in common include daily activity, regular relaxation, eating a diet rich in plant foods, only eating until 80% full, and maintaining supportive family and social networks.


Other solutions include being involved in work. Paid work can boost income and bring psychological benefits through social and mental engagement. Many businesses are recognising the need for a balanced workforce of younger and older employees.


Unpaid work, like volunteering, care work and artistic pursuits, also brings rewards. Connecting older and younger people can yield mutual benefits. Volunteering itself can bring a sense of competence and confidence, keep people active and prevent isolation.






International dysphagia diet guidelines are here

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on May 1, 2019 in Dysphagia

Global guidelines to standardise dysphagia diets have finally reached Australia. The IDDSI framework, while not mandatory, came into effect 1 May, 2019.


Here’s a brief recap followed by insights into what to expect.





Older adults are at high risk for swallowing difficulties, otherwise known as dysphagia. Estimates suggest dysphagia affects up to one in five older people living in the community and around half of those in assisted living facilities.


It’s a serious concern that can result in choking or suffocation if food or drinks go down the wrong way. Managing the condition, while some swallowing ability is still present, involves the use of texture-modified foods and thickened liquids.


The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) lays down food guidelines to ensure that people with dysphagia can eat safely.


Viscosity is tailored according to dysphagia severity, ranked from soft and bite-sized to pureed food, and thin to extremely thick drinks. Proportion Foods’ SmartserveTM passed the test last year when it was classified as Level 4 Puree.


Australia has used its own dysphagia diet guidelines since 2007, but research has grown since then.


IDDSI aims to standardise the terminology and testing of these rankings around the world, for people of all ages in all care facilities. Australia is joining more than 20 other countries including New Zealand, the US, Canada, and several European nations in implementing it.



Making the transition


It will take time and organisation for health care providers and institutions to complete the transition – in the meantime both old and new frameworks will both be used so it’s important to be familiar with each of them.


The Australian Standards for Texture Modified Foods and Fluids – to be phased out – classifies fluids as mildly, moderately and extremely thick and food as soft, minced and moist, and smooth pureed.


IDDSI categorises foods as regular, soft and bite-sized, minced and moist, pureed and liquidised. Drinks go from thin to slightly, mildly, moderately and extremely thick. Pureed and liquidised food overlap with extremely thick and moderately thick fluid, respectively.


It’s apparent when comparing these standards that there is some overlap between them. But it is important to note differences. For instance, Level 6 of the IDDSI, which aligns with Texture A – Soft Diet, specifies that foods must be in ‘bite-sized’ pieces.


To adopt the new guidelines, organisations will need to review and overhaul policy and documentation, educate staff (IDDSI workshops will support this), and review menu items.


All relevant team members – including speech pathologists and dietitians – and external stakeholders – GPs, local hospitals – will also need to be informed and involved in the process.


Speech Pathology Australia, the primary body for speech pathologists, has made a statement in support of the new guidelines that can be accessed on their website below.


The site also provides supporting material including information on old and new standards and educational posters.



The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative 2016 @