People over 65 years old who are fasting this Ramadan, should speak with their doctor if they notice any warning signs of illness, a clinical dietitian at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Home Health Care Service, has urged.
Dalia Elissawi said most elderly individuals who have no major health problems can fast without any adverse health impacts, but fasting should be avoided, or at the very least carefully supervised, in those who have chronic or geriatric illnesses.
“Elderly individuals with health problems are generally not able to fast. Frail and weak elderly patients who fast can place themselves at increased risk for complications; therefore, it is important they speak with their doctor if they experience any signs of illness. In some cases their doctor may recommend an alternative treatment plan that will allow them to continue the fast,” said Elissawi.
She explained that elderly patients who have multiple chronic illnesses that are being treated with medications are especially vulnerable to complications and must consult their doctor if they are fasting and experiencing signs of poor health.
“Tooth loss, health conditions, and general weakness may result in chewing problems and lead to reduced food intake and an unbalanced diet. When hosting elderly individuals for Ramadan meals, the goal should be serving dishes that contain the right amount of nutritious and healthy calories without overloading their plate. We recommend breaking the fast with milk and dates, followed by soup and foods high in fibre, such as oatmeal, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Lean meat, skinless poultry, and fish are also great options,” said Elissawi.
“Elderly individuals are at an increased risk for dehydration. It is important they drink sufficient amounts of liquids, ideally water, and limit stimulants such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Fruits and vegetables, broth-based soups, and smoothies can also be an excellent source of hydration. It is wise to avoid pickled foods, and foods high in salt, which can lead to dehydration,” said Elissawi.
The clinical dietitian has recommended light exercises during the day, saying even simple movements that flex the joints and stretch the body can be helpful and getting sufficient amounts of rest and sleep is also very important.
Elissawi added that there are a number of benefits to fasting, provided the individual is in good health and fasting can improve conditions like hypertension.
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