People who are mentally retarded and old need to share in the responsibility of increasing or maintaining their present level of health. One way they can exercise their freedom of choice is through a physical activity program, either in a group setting or on their own. It is up to caregivers, service providers, and program leaders to increase awareness of the many benefits of physical activity among people who are mentally retarded and old.
DIET AND NUTRITION
Elizabeth J. DeBrine and Mary C. Howell
We are concerned about nutrition for three reasons. First, nutrition, along with physical activity, can help a client maintain or increase her present level of functioning, which in turn can affect where she works, lives, and recreates. A healthy diet combined with a safe exercise routine can increase self-esteem, life satisfaction, and opportunities for community interaction.
Second, food is one area where clients have opportunities to make choices that directly affect how they feel about themselves. To provide choice, a variety of fresh foods has to be readily available. There is no sense in teaching older adults about nutrition if all that is available are snacks high in sugar from vending machines, and overcooked, highly processed institutional food.
Third, we are what we eat. This is true not only in terms of the types and quantities of food that we choose but also in terms of the impact that growing and processing foods have on the environment. Healthy eating promotes sustainable agriculture; sustainable agriculture is a policy that supports local food production while decreasing the wasteful use of water, soil, and fossil fuels. Fresh local foods are best.