The elderly are
at particular risk of poor nutrition
older can mean poor eating habits. The elderly have smaller appetites and sometimes lose interest in food. This can result in the amount of food eaten being insufficient to meet daily nutritional needs.
A number of
physiological changes associated with ageing affect
Thirst. Studies have shown that the elderly
have a reduced sense of thirst. This means that
dehydration can be a problem, especially when unwell.
Appetite. Disease, injury and drug treatments
can all cause loss of taste and smell, producing a
decrease in appetite. Reduced activity and the general
slowing down of metabolic rate that accompanies ageing
may also cause a loss of appetite.
Chewing difficulties may make soft
foods attractive. Some, such as cakes, are high in fat
and sugar but lack more important nutrients. Better
alternatives are eggs, fish, beans, cheese dishes and
stewed fruit. Sauces make food easier to chew and
aspect of meal times, which makes eating more enjoyable,
is absent for older people who live alone.
If a wide
variety of food is eaten, there is less chance of
missing out on important nutrients. Fruits and
vegetables, breads and cereals, eggs, dairy products,
and meat or fish should be eaten every day. Frequent
small drinks of water will help prevent dehydration.
Older people can
improve their nutrition by eating frequent small meals
Ideas for snacks
are fruit, spicy fruit bread, peanut butter on a
cracker, scones, cheese with apple or pear, baked beans,
yoghurt and breakfast cereals.
A tasty meat
loaf is easy to make and can be served for several
meals. The addition of bran in the recipe is an easy way
to add extra fibre to the meal.