Nutrition in aging adults is not something we often think about, though it is extremely important. We are concerned with nutrition in its most simple terms. We want to ensure aging adults get the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, fats, and the right number of calories each day. Unfortunately, the percentage of aging adults who are malnourished is significant.
According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity & Aging:
- 35%-50% of the older residents of long-term care facilities are malnourished.
- 65% of the elderly in hospitals may be malnourished.
Sometimes we think the elderly just are not interested in eating, but more often than not they simply forget, think they already have eaten or no longer enjoy it. Foods can taste different to us as we age, so a certain food we once enjoyed may not provide that same enjoyment later in life.
There are many other causes, according to the Center, including:
- Medication side effects that cause loss of appetite;
- Socio-economic factors;
- Chronic illness that impact the desire to eat; and
- Issues with chewing and swallowing food.
To ensure, nutrition is addressed, we need to look at aging adults holistically and address chronic health issues, medicine side effects, physical conditions and income. These issues can be addressed through a solid care coordination program, but talking with and observing your loved one is the first step.
For some online help, Jennifer Naber, an InnovAge registered dietitian with expertise on nutrition and aging adults, made a series of videos on the nutrition and aging adults. Everything from eating out to buying groceries to cooking.
This InnovAge blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.