Older people is the term generally
used to refer to people over the age of 65.
Energy requirements continue to fall with advancing age because people tend to
be less active, but it is important that older people continue to enjoy their
food and that they keep active in order to maintain a good appetite, to prevent
obesity and to maintain mobility.
People may eat less as they get older for many reasons. Some elderly people have
difficulty in chewing and in swallowing. People with arthritis, for example,
have difficulty in shopping, in preparing and in cooking food. Other people may
simply lose interest in food, for example if they live alone or are unwell, and
others limit what they buy because they have financial problems. It is therefore
not uncommon for intake of certain nutrients to be lower than recommended.
Intake of some of the B vitamins and vitamin C may be low due to a reduction in
the amount of fresh food eaten, and therefore consumption of fruit juice and
canned fruits should be encouraged.
Osteoporosis is a major problem in elderly people, especially women. It occurs
when bones have become so fragile that they fracture easily. It affects 1 in 3
women and 1 in 12 men. The best way to prevent this condition is to build a
strong skeleton during childhood by eating a good diet rich in calcium and being
physically active. These habits should then be maintained as an adult. An
adequate calcium intake during the later years is also important as it may help
to reduce bone loss.
Vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption, is mainly obtained from
the action of sunlight on the skin. So people who are housebound or live in
institutions may be at risk of deficiency. It is recommended that everyone over
65 years of age takes supplement of vitamin D, and dietary sources such as oily
fish, cod liver oil and margarine should be eaten regularly.
It is also important that the intake of fluids is kept up in old age to avoid
dehydration which may cause mental confusion.
The elderly food must involve a soft diet, that means tolerated and accepted
Useful because it must be subordinated to their digestive abilities and possible
liver and pancreatic insufficiency;
accepted because it mustn’t engender nausea but must contemplate wide variation
of the foods for each one.
Main requisite to prepare a diet is represented by the knowledge of proteinic
and caloric needs that decrease with ageing.
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