Age-related Challenges that Hinder Proper Nutrition
The elderly adult’s nutritional health is crucial. It can dramatically affect his or her ability to fight diseases, recover from sickness or surgical operations, more importantly, live a healthy life. The relationship between a senior’s well-being and nutrition is complex, with a number of factors affecting his or her diet. One’s nutritional knowledge, medications, physical limitations, caregiver support, oral health can all dictate and determine what one eats, as well as when and where he or she eats.
It is important that the elders make eating healthy a priority given that aging is linked to a variety of changes including deficiencies, decreased quality of life and poor health outcomes. Fortunately, age-related nutritional deficiencies can be prevented with proper health awareness and education, eating nutrient-rich foods, and taking appropriate supplements.
Below are significant nutritional challenges that an individual face as he or she ages.
1. Decreased appetite
It’s common among seniors to experience reduced appetite due to changes in their sense of taste and smell, as well as changes in life circumstances. Studies have found that older people tend to have lower levels of hunger hormones and higher levels of fullness hormones resulting in feeling less hungry and feeling fuller more quickly. Loss of appetite can also be caused by tooth loss, loneliness, medications and underlying illnesses.
Dividing nutrients-packed meals into smaller portions and allocating them throughout the day can address this health challenge. Snacking on healthy foods such as almonds, yogurt, eggs can also help.
2. Losing muscle and strength
Sarcopenia, also the loss of muscle mass and strength, is among the health-related challenges one faces. In fact, the average adult loses 3 to 8% of their muscles every decade after turning 30 years old. This phenomenon increases one’s risk of incurring fractures and other injuries.
One way to address this is through observing a protein-rich diet as well as doing resistance training when working out.
3. Bone loss
As an individual grows older, his or her body starts absorbing less calcium. This reduction in calcium absorption is likely caused by Vitamin D deficiency with aging making the body less efficient at producing it.
To counter this age-related health issue, it is advised that one consume a variety of foods that contain calcium, including dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, a variety of fish such as salmon and herring, also Vitamin D-rich supplements like cod liver.
The bottom line is that measures can be taken to overcome the aforementioned health challenges. The key is making conscious efforts to address them and striving to eat and live healthy.