Eating well for ageing
For older people, eating well as they age becomes even more important
- It increases their ability to retain mental alertness
- Helps them resist illness and disease
- Raises energy levels
- Improves the immune system
- Allows for faster recuperation times and better management of chronic health problems
- Helps to maintain a positive outlook and emotional balance
Feeding the ageing body, mind and soul
Good nutrition keeps muscles, bones, organs, and other body parts strong for the long haul
Eating vitamin-rich food boosts immunity and fights illness-causing toxins
A proper diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and anaemia
Key nutrients are essential for the brain to do its job. Research shows that people who eat a selection of brightly coloured fruit, leafy veggies, certain fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease their risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthy food gives more energy and improves the appearance, resulting in a self-esteem boost.
Older adults can feel better immediately and stay healthy for the future by choosing to eat healthy foods. A balanced diet and physical activity contribute to a higher quality of life and enhanced independence with age
How many calories does the older person need?
The answer is that it depends on your level of activity:
A woman over 50 who is:
- Not physically active: about 1600 calories a day
- Somewhat physically: about 1800 calories a day
- Very active: about 2000 calories a day
A man over 50 who is:
- Not physically active:about 2000 calories a day
- Somewhat physically active: about 2200-2400 calories a day
- Very active:about 2400-2800 calories a day
Why dietary needs change as we age?
Every season of life brings changes and adjustments to the body. Understanding what is happening will help you take control of your elderly relative’s nutritional requirements:
- Metabolism: Every year over the age of forty, our metabolism slows. This means that even if you continue to eat the same amount as when you were younger, you’re likely to gain weight, because you are burning fewer calories. In addition, you may be less physically active
- Weakened senses: Your taste and smell senses diminish with age. The elderly tend to lose sensitivity to salty and bitter tastes first, so may be inclined to salt food more heavily than before, yet they actually need less salt than the young. Try to use herbs and olive oil to season food instead of salt. Similarly, the elderly tend to retain the ability to distinguish sweet tastes the longest, leading some to overindulge in sugary foods and snacks.
- Medicines and illnesses: Prescription medications and illnesses can often negatively influence appetite and may also affect taste, again leading the elderly to add too much salt or sugar to their food
- Digestion: Due to a slowing digestive system, the elderly generate less saliva and stomach acid as they age, making it more difficult for them 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
- Loneliness and depression: Loneliness and depression affect diet. For some, feeling down leads to not eating and in others, it may trigger over-eating.
- Death or divorce: Newly single elderly people may not know how to cook, or may not feel like cooking for one.
- Cost: People on limited budgets might have trouble affording a balanced, healthy diet