What Factors Can Affect Nutrition in the Elderly?

March is National Nutrition Month – the perfect time for seniors to re-examine their nutrition habits and consider certain food choices’ impact on their bodies. Nutrition, as we age, plays a key role in our quality of life.

As we get older, certain body changes increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies that can affect all areas of health, including physical, mental, and social health. Consequently, poor nutrition increases older adults’ risk of malnutrition, falls, fractures, and a decline in quality of life.

Most illnesses suffered by the elderly are due to a lack of adequate nutrition. Nutrition is about eating a safe and nutritious diet to get the nutrients needed from the body. Today, we will look at what factors can affect nutrition in the elderly:

  • Mental and Psychological Health
    • Mental and Psychological status is a big factor with older adults, as the state of mind can greatly affect appetite. Depression is a common cause of weight loss and malnutrition in older adults. Stress and anxiety can also cause you to eat less than you need.
  • Loss of Appetite
    • Many people have less appetite as they age, making getting all the nutrition they may need difficult. Appetite tends to decline with age for several reasons including changes to the digestive system, hormones, and senses.
  • Slower Metabolism
    • The body’s metabolism progressively slows over time. This means that the same amount of food will provide fewer nutrients and energy than it once did.
  • Decreased Activity Levels
    • One common change that occurs with aging is decreased activity level. Conditions that limit one’s mobility can also contribute to this decline. A decreased activity level can also directly impact one’s diet. A less active person may opt for eating options like processed frozen meals, which can contribute to conditions like excess weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Disease
    • Aging is a major risk factor for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. These diseases and their medical treatments can decrease appetite, and interfere with normal eating, affecting how the body uses nutrients.
  • Financial Status
    • Lower income is prevalent in aging populations, making it difficult for many older adults to afford nutrient-dense food such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other minimally processed whole-foods.

Older adults especially are prone to age-related medical conditions. If you’re providing for the needs of older adults or taking care of aging seniors, it’s important to look out for the factors to provide quality of life. At LifeWorx, we have solutions designed for all your needs, and our caregivers are well-versed in following recipes and menus for clients with dietary restrictions, health conditions, etc. Contact us today, if your loved one is in need of in-home caregiving services.

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