LIFE Celebrates National Nutrition Month

In honor of National Nutrition Month, Lutheran SeniorLife is recognizing the LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) Program’s nutritional team and all of their efforts to improve the health of our seniors.

The nutrition campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses on the importance of making informed food choices while developing sound eating habits.

Since education plays an integral part in achieving these goals, the LIFE Program dietitian nutritionists have made it a priority to join in on campaign efforts through various nutrition-based activities and programs throughout the month.

“We’ve worked on generating awareness through games such as nutrition BINGO and Name That Food,” said Holly Thomas, registered dietitian nutritionist at LIFE Armstrong County. “We’ve also done some cooking demonstrations and community service projects for the dietitian department at ACMH Hospital.”

LIFE Butler County decided to get experimental with their nutritional programming by offering healthy taste testing. Some participants even enjoyed the experience of trying almond milk for the very first time.

“It’s nice because a lot of them don’t want to buy something if they’ve never tried it before,” said Allison Norris, registered dietitian nutritionist at LIFE Butler County. “We really want to present them with the opportunity to try new things before having them make the purchase.”

LIFE Lawrence County similarly took advantage of campaign awareness with cooking demonstrations, puzzles and games while LIFE Beaver County presented “Ask the Dietitian” programming and diabetes support groups.

Since the total aim of the LIFE Program is to keep seniors independent within their own homes, the responsibilities of a LIFE dietitian stretch far beyond a typical role.

“Their job really is all inclusive care,” said Darla Evans, director of nutritional services for the LIFE Programs.

Low-income individuals are another factor adding to the job’s uniqueness.

“Most of the population we’re dealing with is shopping at the dollar store so it’s a matter of teaching them how to work around what they are buying,” said Norris.

“Yes, and a lot of them don’t have ovens, so they are limited to cooking food in a microwave,” Thomas added. “That’s when it becomes our job to know what their home situation is like so we can educate based on what works best for them.”

All obstacles aside, the result of LIFE’s nutritional work is rewarding in the end.

“It’s all worth it when you become a part of the positive outcome for each of the participants,” said Lita Hart, registered dietitian nutritionist at LIFE Lawrence County. “Everything becomes real when a participant looks up at you and says, ‘You are my family. You’ve changed my life’.”