As we age physical changes to our bodies occur which can affect the way we think about food. These changes can prevent us from having access to a healthy diet and can also make us believe we are less hungry, resulting in us eating less.
Staying nourished is really important, malnutrition is both a cause and consequence of ill health and older people are at an increased risk. Malnutrition is preventable and can be avoided by eating well and having the right amount of nutrients in our body. However, 1 in 3 people over the age of 85 are at risk of malnutrition. So why does it happen?
Social isolation - Older people living alone may feel unmotivated to prepare food or lack the cooking skills
Reduced mobility - May mean shopping for food becomes more difficult
Lower food budgets - When disposable income reduces
Stressful events - Heightened emotion such as bereavement, family pressures or financial difficulties can cause a reduction in appetite
Effects of medication - Can affect appetite and cause changes in oral environment
Our tastebud’s change - Enjoyment of food is linked to taste. As we age, our tastebud’s are renewed less frequently leading to a decline in appetite.
Difficulty in eating - An older person may be affected by problems with chewing or swallowing. Bad fitting dentures or dry mouth can also affect someone’s ability to eat
Surgery or illness and disease - Occurrences of these as we age can create a decrease in thirst, taste and appetite
Dementia - People living with dementia can forget to eat and have limited recognition of hunger
Our mood - People who have illness or disease can be prone to depression
Top Tips for Healthy Eating for Older People
- - Make food flavoursome
- - Encourage snacking
- - Eat with company
- - Include iron-rich foods
- - Drink plenty of fluids
- - Eat foods that help digestion
- - Keep bones healthy with calcium
- - Eat less salt
- - Give older people time
- - Consider older people’s preferences
- - Ensure food looks appetising and is tasty.
- - Avoid interruptions.
If you or someone you know are feeling under strain and need a helping hand or a bit of respite time, Home Instead Senior Care South Lanarkshire can help. Our CAREGivers can provide help around the house as well as assistance with meal preparation, shopping and errands. Give us a call, we are here to help.
If you want to learn more about healthy eating and the elderly then contact us and ask for a copy of our “Stay Nourished” brochure.