Senior Scene: From the Office: A registered dietician nutritionist can help seniors


Eating well can often seem like a challenge.

What we thought was healthy yesterday now isn’t, and what was once bad for us is now the newest health craze on the market. You cannot turn on the television, radio or computer these days without being bombarded with advertisements and marketing campaigns that will try to sell you on the next health fad. So, who out there actually knows what they are talking about? Who can we believe to lead us through this crazy maze of misinformation? The answer is a registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist.

RDN’s can provide the highest level of nutrition counseling as they have been specifically trained through multiple years of education to provide sound nutritional advice based on scientific evidence. Anyone out there can claim to be a nutritionist, but only someone with a bachelor’s degree in the field, who has passed a national registration exam and completed 1,200 hours of supervised practice in nutrition can use the labels RD or RDN. These individuals have completed rigorous training to achieve this credential and many also have graduate degrees or certifications in specialty nutrition areas such as renal disease or diabetes. When you are looking to find someone to talk to about nutrition and your health, an RD or RDN is the credential you should look for.

An RDN can help you in many ways, including the management of chronic diseases, tailoring nutrition advice to your specific needs. Dietitians do not provide standardized care, as we believe there is not one way to treat every person. Food is an individual thing, and therefore each person looks at and approaches this or her food, meals and health in a different way, which calls for a different approach each time. Through nutrition counseling, the RDN works to understand the person’s specific relationship and struggle with food and health, and aims to set an individualized plan to help achieve the client’s goals.

Beyond chronic disease, an RDN can also assist and support you in achieving your goals related to weight loss or weight gain and can help you navigate difficult food allergies, intolerances and/or sensitivities. Fad diets may seem like the best thing for quick results, but working with an RD or RDN provides a safe, effective and evidence-based plan for achieving your goals. The RDN is also trained to help guide and motivate you to achieve your goals, a support that is most often lacking in the quick-fix programs that populate the market today.

The Delaware County Office for the Aging provides all senior citizen residents with the opportunity to receive nutrition counseling and education tailored to their individual needs. Any individual with nutrition-related concerns due to medical or health-related problems such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease can greatly benefit from this service. Call the office at 832-5750 if you are interested in this service. The service is free of charge to county residents, 60 years of age or older. 

Wayne Shepard is director of the Delaware County Office for the Aging. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at

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