Nutrition For The Aging: Overview of How Needs Change as We Age

Nutritional needs change as we age.

Whether you are a senior, or the caregiver, or concerned child of one, it is important to understand how our nutritional needs change as we age. Many seniors suffer from the effects of having a diet that is low in nutrition.

This is unfortunate because of the many benefits of having a healthy diet which can include but are not limited to:
  • Increased mental acuteness
  • Resistance to illness and disease
  • Higher energy levels
  • More robust immune system
  • Faster recuperation times
  • Better management of chronic health problems
All of the items listed above, contribute to a much higher quality of life as we age. Part of the problem of a low nutritional diet stems from the fact that as we age, our relationship to food changes along with our bodies. When we are younger, we might grab fast food on the run and not think twice about it. In later life, however, eating well can be the key to staying mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and energetic, with a strong immune system, and a positive outlook.

Many seniors find that there are significant obstacles in maintaining a healthy diet. Knowing and understand what these obstacles can be is the first step toward helping your senior gain some better nutrition in their diet. These obstacles can include:
  • Decreased activity level-Seniors will often cut back on activity for physical and medical reasons. Weigh gain can result from the decrease in calories burned, and poor digestion can become a problem.
  • Lifestyle changes-Newly single seniors may not know how to cook, or may not feel like cooking for one. In addition, many seniors are on limited budgets and might have trouble affording a balanced, healthy diet.
  • Metabolism-The metabolism slows down as we age and this can become a problem in maintaining a healthy diet.
  • Taste and appetite-As we age our senses of taste and smell diminish, so some seniors may be inclined to season their food more heavily than before (even though seniors need less salt than younger people). In addition, they may struggle with loss of appetite due to lifestyle, loneliness, or a medical condition.
  • Health issues-Physical ailments and prescription medications can often negatively influence appetite. It is important to talk to your doctor about overcoming side effects of medication, or specific physical conditions.
  • Digestion-Due to changes in your digestive system as you age you will generate less saliva and stomach acid, making it more difficult for your body to process certain vitamins and minerals, such as B12, B6, and Folic Acid, which are necessary to maintain mental alertness, a keen memory, and good circulation.
  • Emotional factors-This can include factors such as loneliness and depression which can affect your diet. Eating with other people, getting out, and reestablishing a social life can all be helpful if this is part of the problem.

For many seniors the obstacles of eating a nutritionally balanced diet can be helped with some minor interventions. Meal delivery, eating out socially, a caretaker, can all make a great change in the diet. However if your senior is suffering from health problems or is recuperating from surgery you may want to consider nutritional supplements. At they offer a wide variety of shakes, juices, and puddings to help boost your senior’s nutrition in an easy to eat way. There are also options for those seniors who are diabetic or have special dietary needs such as higher fiber. The knowledgeable specialists at the site can help you determine the items that will work best for your senior’s special nutritional needs.

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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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