Nutrition in old age

Only light meals for seniors? No way! In old age, we need a diet as varied and balanced as when we are young. But there are a few special features of nutrition in old age. informs you in this theme world about the basics of age-appropriate nutrition, names possible nutritional problems and provides you with various solutions.

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Nutrition in old age: tips for a balanced diet

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How can older people or those in need of care eat a balanced as well as healthy diet while meeting the challenges of one or more illnesses? presents in this guidebook the typical nutritional problems as well as suitable solutions and aids and gives tips for a healthy diet in old age.

Diet as you age

Proper nutrition in old age is not much different from the rules for nutrition in younger years. Whole grains, plenty of vegetables and fruits, fresh dairy products daily, and fish occasionally provide a varied and balanced diet. Foods high in fat and sugar are not recommended for children, young adults or seniors and should be avoided if possible.

What changes about life as you age, however, is your metabolism. Due to lower muscle mass and a higher proportion of fat in the body, the daily energy metabolism decreases in old age. Compared to younger people, seniors need about 200 to 300 fewer calories per day, but they need foods with a higher nutrient density. (1)

Tatjana Bruckner

Biography is an important part of our diet

Everyone’s diet is different, and there are very different reasons for their dietary habits. Nutrition is related in many respects to personal life history as well as eating culture and is thus diverse. Rituals and habits play an important role here. Some go to the bathroom first thing in the morning, others eat breakfast first. Some people have been drinking their coffee with milk and sugar in front of the TV for years and years. Others drink their tea while looking out of the window. The diet is becoming more and more varied, and the range and availability of foodstuffs have a huge abundance. Due to the wide range of choices, our diet is in constant flux. New foods come on the market, others go off the shelf. However, this can quickly overwhelm older people in particular.

Nutritional problems in old age

Old age, physical changes or certain illnesses can make eating more difficult in old age. In addition, sensations such as pleasure, hunger and thirst are only perceived in a distorted way or no longer correctly, depending on age and state of health, so that various problems and restrictions can arise in the context of nutrition, which can make eating more difficult. What are typical nutritional problems in old age?

Tatjana Bruckner

Keep a food diary: when was what eaten, when was what drunk?

No matter what the dietary issues are, I would always recommend looking carefully. A food diary can support you. It helps you look for possible intolerances and gives you a good overview of what was eaten and drunk. This is a good way to note certain abnormalities and draw important conclusions about your daily care routine:

  • What do people like to eat or drink? (For example, certain dishes or individual foods and beverages)
  • What is eaten reluctantly? (For example, there are aversions or intolerances)
  • What resources are available? (For example, uses various aids, can communicate or can eat independently with guidance and light support)
  • What is the dental status? (For example, still has complete dentition, wears dentures or can eat without dentures without complaints)

Food intolerances

In the course of life, people can develop intolerances to foods that must be taken into account, especially in old age. If you frequently experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and flatulence, but also headaches after eating certain foods, these may be possible indications of a food intolerance. Therefore, be sure to discuss possible intolerances with your doctor and create a diet plan that allows you to eat a balanced diet and take the intolerance into account as much as possible.

The most common food intolerances are:

  • Fructose (fruit sugar): Affected person reacts with diarrhea, flatulence and abdominal pain.
    You should avoid: Fruit sweeteners, dried fruits, fruit juices or honey.
    Here’s what you can eat instead: stevia, rice syrup or dextrose.
  • Milk sugar (lactose): An enzyme deficiency leads to diarrhea.
    You should avoid: Milk, cream cheese, cream, curd cheese and sweets containing milk.
    You can eat this instead: Hard cheeses and lactose-free alternatives, as well as plant-based alternatives such as oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, and vegan products.
  • Gluten: With gluten intolerance (celiac disease), the intestinal mucosa becomes inflamed.
    You should avoid: Bread, cereals, cakes, cookies, in short: wheat, rye and all cereals containing gluten.
    Here’s what you can eat instead: gluten-free alternatives like corn, rice, buckwheat, millet, amaranth and quinoa.
  • Histamine: Headaches, gastrointestinal problems, hives and palpitations may indicate histamine intolerance.
    What you should avoid: Red wine, salami and aged cheese

Effects of medications on nutrition

In addition to the already declining digestive activity in old age, regular medication can impair gastrointestinal activity. For example, in seniors who take dehydration tablets due to high blood pressure or heart failure, this can cause a threatening lack of fluids and nutrients in the short or long term.

Tatjana Bruckner

Think about the possible side effects of medications

If you notice any changes in appetite, thirst, digestion or weight loss in connection with taking a new medication, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about it as soon as possible. Since most medications first reach the digestive tract, this is where the first problems become noticeable. From my own experience, I know how gradual a loss of appetite and weight can be. In my case it took several months until I found the cause together with my pharmacist: an intolerance to medication.

Special nutrition for chronic or acute diseases

Some diseases require a special diet to relieve symptoms or prevent worsening of the disease. In the same way, operations or treatments may require special nutrition. This includes, for example, omitting certain foods, taking supplements, and sometimes resorting to clinical diets.

The main diseases that pose nutritional problems include

  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s syndrome
  • Depression or depression in old age
  • Rheumatic or inflammatory diseases

Nutrition tips: What to watch for in certain diseases

  • If you have gastrointestinal problems: High-fiber, alkaline food is advantageous here.
  • in the case of diabetes: If possible, do not eat animal fats or coconut fat, but rather vegetable fats, lots of fiber, fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, legumes and cereals, and generally foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Be sure to consume protein in moderation (no more than 10 to 15 percent of daily calories) and alcohol (women no more than 10 grams of alcohol, men no more than 20 grams of alcohol).
  • for cancer prevention: Plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as lots of fiber, can be a good cancer preventative.
  • with muscle atrophy: Plenty of protein, folic acid, vitamin B12 and D, and physical exercise can counteract muscle loss.
  • For iron deficiency: Iron-rich foods such as meat, millet and lentils, oatmeal, spinach and Swiss chard, and other green leafy vegetables can compensate for iron deficiency. Caffeine (e.g. in coffee and black tea), on the other hand, inhibits the absorption of iron. So it is better to avoid caffeinated drinks. Iron is better utilized if vitamin C (for example, a glass of orange juice) is ingested with it.
  • For high blood pressure: Consciously eat a low-salt diet, avoid alcohol and eat foods rich in potassium (including spinach, kale, potatoes, bananas, avocados, nuts), plenty of fish, olive oil, fruits and vegetables.
  • for osteoarthritis: Consciously eat a diet low in fat and high in vitamins. Avoid cheese, coffee, sweets, alcohol, meat and saturated fats. In addition, it can help you lose weight if you are overweight.
  • in the case of osteoporosis: Make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your food and exercise regularly. Calcium strengthens bones and can be found in milk, green vegetables and legumes, for example. Vitamin D and regular exercise increases bone density.
  • for dementia: Fish, nuts and high-quality vegetable oils provide important omega-3 fatty acids that protect and strengthen brain power. Be sure to guide and accompany your dementia sufferer in eating and drinking.
  • for depression: For depression, a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet with plenty of fish, grains, fruits and vegetables is recommended. In turn, give up meat, cheese and nuts as much as possible.
  • for swallowing disorders: Despite the adapted diet in the form of porridge or liquid, make sure that the baby is supplied with nutrients that are rich in protein and meet his or her needs.
  • For rheumatic or inflammatory diseases: Avoid meat and sausage products, as well as milk and dairy products. The arachidonic acid contained in them forms pro-inflammatory messengers that promote inflammation of the joints. The Rheumatism League recommends a maximum of two small meat meals per week. Also, eat no more than 4 egg yolks per week. And you should consider switching to low-fat versions of dairy products. Also the "Mediterranean kitchen" is recommended gladly with rheumatism tables illnesses.

Tatjana Bruckner

"I have tried out over a longer period of time what is good for me and what is not"

I myself suffer from systemic lupus erythematosus, a rheumatic disease. Over a longer period of time, I have tried out what is good for me and what is not. I have swapped dairy for plant-based alternatives and no longer eat meat, but do eat fish and plant-based products. However, it is important to substitute vitamin B12 when giving up meat completely, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this. Oils such as fish oil, linseed oil, rapeseed oil, wheat germ oil, soybean oil or walnut oil have an anti-inflammatory effect. Also reach for spices such as ginger, curry, cumin and garlic. These are so-called antioxidants that can help rheumatism sufferers.

Diabetes requires a low-fat diet

Poorer blood sugar regulation and a weakened pancreas can trigger diabetes mellitus in old age. Seniors with diabetes should eat only foods with a low glycemic index (GI) and keep their overall diet as low in fat as possible. Animal fats in particular have a negative effect on health due to their saturated fatty acids. What many diabetics tolerate well, on the other hand, are high-fiber, highly satiating products such as rice, pasta, legumes, but also low-fat dairy products, salads, fruits and vegetables.

Changed taste preferences and appetite in dementia

People with dementia sometimes develop extremely specific taste preferences, as taste perception can be completely shifted by the disease. Likewise, the perception of hunger, thirst, satiety and taste may be disturbed or rapidly diminish. As a result, people with dementia no longer feel hunger, appetite, or well-being through eating – which eventually prevents them from eating and causes serious nutritional problems.

Underweight in old age? Set up a fixed diet plan!

Perhaps you know this: You have less and less appetite, often eat the same food, or you are physically degraded due to illness. Then you should take special care of yourself, consciously change your diet and try not to lose any more weight.

Meal plans or fixed orders from the meal delivery service ("meals on wheels") can help you to eat fresh food in a targeted and conscious way. Depending on the situation, it can also be beneficial to eat in company or to be guided to eat by a relative. If you or your loved one are severely emaciated, a calorie-rich supplementary food, such as drinkable food, can be helpful.

Disturbed fluid balance in old age

In addition to nutritional problems, fluid balance can also be impaired in old age. In general, the recommended daily amount of fluid for seniors is at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Due to a diminished or disturbed sense of thirst, seniors automatically drink less and feel thirsty late or not at all. Fixed drinking plans and reminders to drink can be a remedy. For example, alarm clocks can be set. You can also provide the drinking quantity for the day already in the morning.

Checklist: 5 warning signs of dehydration

  1. Dry mouth: dry mucous membranes, no saliva under the tongue
  2. Concentrated urine
  3. Decreased perspiration: powder-dry armpits and no foot sweat, v.a. between the toes
  4. Dizziness when standing up
  5. Fatigue and lack of concentration

Tatjana Bruckner

The right cup can also motivate you to drink

The drinking vessel can also help you or your relative in need of care to reach the daily recommended drinking quantity (at least 1.5 liters per day). There are several possibilities here:

  • Colorful drinking cups: Red cups are the minimum for the day. Yellow cup the mediocrity, that is, the "drinking half-time". Green cups are the daily goal.
  • A printed photo cup that shows a nice picture – but only as long as there is warm liquid inside. So the tea is also gladly poured quickly again.
  • Even the personal favorite cup or drink as a "little reward" at the end can encourage drinking.

Swallowing disorders / dysphagia

Dysphagia is when people can no longer transport food and liquids into the esophagus, i.e., they can no longer swallow food and drinks. This can have far-reaching consequences and health implications. Not only can sufferers no longer eat and drink with relish, but they are tormented by the constant fear of choking. There are good treatment options or aids for dysphagia, as long as it is diagnosed in time. How to recognize a swallowing disorder, what are the typical causes and how to deal with dysphagia as a caregiver, you will learn in the article Dysphagia / Swallowing disorder.

Constipation / Constipation

In constipation, also called constipation, emptying the bowels is difficult. The stool is very hard and excretion can sometimes be associated with severe pain. The digestive system can be very sensitive to various influences. A change in daily routine or even a change in diet during a vacation or after a hospital stay can irritate the usual rhythm and thus lead to digestive problems. Other causes of constipation that are suspected are:

  • Lack of fluids
  • malnutrition: Too little fiber.
  • Lack of exercise: This often occurs in old age. Especially for people with limited mobility or as a result of bed confinement. Less movement also means less stimulation for the digestive processes.
  • Medications: There are medications which can have a constipating effect. These include strong painkillers such as opiates.
  • Illnesses: Metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus or advanced colon cancer.

Laxatives are not used for constipation prophylaxis and yet are often taken permanently even though they are not even approved for permanent use. So it is best to consider together with your doctor and pharmacist which remedies you should use for acute constipation. Certain juices, such as lemon juice or sauerkraut juice, for example, have a laxative effect.

Tatjana Bruckner

You can prevent constipation with these measures:

  • Make sure you drink enough Fluid intake: At least 1.5 liters a day.
  • Reach for foods that promote digestion such as dried fruit, vegetables, sauerkraut, whole grain products or yoghurt.
  • Be sure to Regular mobilization and maintain your usual daily rhythm. Of course, only to the extent possible.
  • Support the intestines during digestion with targeted Bowel training or Bowel massages. In addition, there are special Bowel cures or Intestinal nutrition with probiotics, which can rebalance a disturbed intestinal flora. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.
  • Introduce Nutrition diary, by noting what was eaten at what time and in what quantity, and how you or your dependent relative felt after eating. You can also make a note of any abnormalities, such as diarrhea in the evening. In the case of persistent complaints, your doctor or a nutritionist can draw even more precise conclusions with the help of the food diary.

Malnutrition& Malnutrition – common problems in old age

Many elderly people tend to eat a one-sided and unbalanced diet in old age, taking in too few nutrients and too little liquid, or even forgetting to eat altogether on some days. If certain diseases or food intolerances are also present, malnutrition or nutritional deficiencies can quickly escalate and become dangerous for the human organism.

In the malnutrition guide, you can read about the consequences of malnutrition and how you can prevent it with a healthy and balanced diet instead.

aids and solutions for nutritional problems in old age

Drink food

Drip feeds can be used as a supplement to the normal diet when patients can no longer meet their nutritional and caloric needs through their normal food intake. This is especially the case for patients with chewing and swallowing difficulties or severely emaciated people who are increasingly weakened. Drinkable food can restore your well-being and significantly improve your nutritional status.

The composition of the drinkable food can be precisely tailored to the needs of the person concerned and also take into account diseases such as Crohn’s disease, diabetes or liver insufficiency.

Enteral nutrition: Artificial feeding by tube

In the case of severe illness, weakness and after acute operations, the usual oral intake of food by mouth is not possible or only possible to a limited extent for some people. In these cases, a clinical feeding tube can help to supply the patient with the required amount of energy and all important vital substances so that they can quickly regain their strength. This involves avoiding the mouth and throat completely and feeding the food to the gastrointestinal tract via a tube.

As a good alternative to enteral nutrition, a high-protein and nutrient-enriched drinkable food is recommended, especially in cases of chewing and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia).

Parenteral nutrition

If people suffer from such severe nutritional problems that they are unable to take in food and fluids either by mouth or via the gastrointestinal tract by tube, parenteral nutrition remains the solution. In this case, the mouth, throat and digestive tract are completely bypassed and the nutrients, including glucose and vitamins, enter the bloodstream directly via an infusion.

The infusion can be tailored precisely to the needs and deficiencies of the patient and also to whether he or she is still able to drink and eat by himself or herself or is being fed completely parenterally.

Food preparation

If there are nutritional problems such as dysphagia, but the patient can still eat normally by mouth, it is important that the nutritional components have the right consistency. This means that the food should have a homogeneous consistency and not contain any pieces, crumbs or fibers. With regard to consistency, a distinction is made between four types of preparation:

  1. Passed viscous food
  2. Pureed food
  3. Partially pureed food
  4. Adapted, soft food, not pureed

In order to thicken food that is too liquid and thus to be able to eat better, there are special Thickening and gelling agents, which v. a. Facilitate food intake for patients with swallowing difficulties.

Drinking aids

There are also aids for liquids or very thin food for seniors to help them drink. To choose from

  • Special drinking aids with or without handle
  • Drinking aids with nose cutout
  • So-called sippy cups and cups
  • Special drinking aids with backflow stop
  • as well as special drinking cups for people with dysphagia

Tatjana Bruckner

Think about what your relative in need of care can still do

Think about what else your loved one can do. It is important that resources are further promoted or maintained. If your relative in need of care can still drink on his own, but his motor skills are no longer up to the task, you can support him in a very simple way by

  • lead his hand to the cup
  • help him to grip the cup
  • remind him how to bring the cup to the mouth

In this way, you actively involve your relative in need of care, which should not make the situation uncomfortable for anyone.

Nutrition tips for the elderly

Tips for a healthy diet in old age

  • Need for proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in old age as high as in young age
  • Healthy food: fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and dairy products
  • Energize: in old age around 200 to 300 calories per day less necessary, too high energy and fat intake can lead to overweight
  • Fluid balance: at least 1.5 liters of fluid per day are recommended

Tatjana Bruckner

Eat the Rainbow "Eat the rainbow" the more colorful the better

Personally, I like smoothies and juices from the juicer, the so-called slow juicer, very much. How to eat lots of fruit and vegetables quickly and deliciously. Here, however, you should still consider two important things:

  • Add an additional source of fat to your smoothie or juice for optimal absorption of fat-soluble vitamins E, D, K and A. Linseed oil, for example, is very suitable for this.
  • Pay attention to your oral and dental hygiene, because even in fruit hides sugar. Therefore, clean your mouth and teeth afterwards, so that your gums and teeth remain healthy.

Iodine, folic acid and vitamin D for nutrient deficiencies in old age

To meet the higher nutrient requirements, foods with a plus of Iodine, Folic acid and Vitamin D. Vitamin D in particular, which helps build and maintain bones, is less readily available in old age, yet so important for a healthy lifestyle and balanced nutrients. So when it comes to your diet, look specifically for foods that contain extra iodine, folic acid and vitamin D, such as sea fish, dairy and whole-grain products, green vegetables and legumes.

Carla Krellner

Increased protein requirements in old age
Since the body has no protein stores, a lack of protein quickly makes itself felt in old age: There is a reduction in muscle mass and general physical weakness. A negative effect on the immune system and a delay in wound healing and recovery can also be the result. It is therefore particularly important to pay attention to an adequate protein intake in old age!

Fit thanks to calcium and omega-3 fatty acids

In addition to iodine, folic acid and vitamin D, seniors should make sure they have adequate Calcium-Pay attention to intake and reach for dairy products several times a day. Calcium is a natural and effective protection against osteoporosis and therefore a good prophylaxis for bone health. Fish, nuts and high-quality vegetable oils provide the body with additional valuable nutrients Omega-3 fatty acids, which can have a positive effect on cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory processes such as rheumatism. In addition, omega-3 can improve oxygen supply to the brain.

Counteract muscle atrophy in old age with a healthy diet

A natural aging process already begins in the mid-30s, which we can counteract primarily through targeted sports and outdoor exercise, but also through healthy foods. Proteins play a decisive role in this: the recommended daily dose is 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight.

In addition to an optimal vitamin D supply through sunlight and foods containing vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin B12 and an alkaline-oriented diet with lots of fruits and vegetables are beneficial.

Tips for healthy foods that are high in nutrients and vitamins

  • iodine: Iodized table salt and sea fish
  • Folic acid: Whole grain products and green leafy vegetables
  • calcium: Have milk, cheese, yogurt or curd several times a day
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: High-quality olive, rapeseed or linseed oil, fish and nuts
  • Vitamin D: Sunlight or daylight; vitamin D-rich foods such as egg yolks, mushrooms, liver, salmon, and fatty fish; possibly also as a dietary supplement on medical advice
  • Vitamin B12: Meat, fish, curd cheese, cheese, sauerkraut

Tatjana Bruckner

Have your blood values regularly in the view

If you avoid animal products such as meat, eggs, cheese or milk, it is advisable to have your blood levels of vitamin B12 checked from time to time. Vitamin D3 levels can also be determined in the blood. A deficiency is widespread nowadays. I personally advise you, even if you have to pay for the service yourself, to have your vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 levels checked at regular intervals.

8 tips for an age-appropriate diet

To ensure that you consciously eat a healthy and balanced diet as you age, menu plans and the conscious integration of nutrient-rich foods can help. An age-appropriate diet should meet the following criteria:

Vitamins in old age

  1. good tolerance
  2. good taste
  3. digestive
  4. adapted to possible diseases
  5. Supports organ functions
  6. rich in nutrients
  7. low fat
  8. High quality and fresh.

Dietary supplements to prevent nutritional problems

Out of fear of nutritional problems and deficiencies, many seniors take vitamin and mineral supplements – and often exceed the recommended daily allowances. In principle, the following applies: in the case of diseases such as diabetes mellitus or underweight, support with dietary supplements can be useful – in healthy seniors, on the other hand, supplements should only be taken with caution and medical consultation. They are not a substitute for a healthy and balanced wholefood diet. (2)

Before any dietary supplementation, a conscious diet plan should be implemented: Nuts, especially almonds, legumes, green smoothies and high-quality vegetable oils are an ideal starting point for health in old age.

Tatjana Bruckner

Don’t overdo it

With all the recommendations around the topic nutrition I would like to say to you finally: One may, as it is called so beautifully, the "church also in the village leave". Because food also means quality of life. What good is it if you or your family member in need of care eat everything, no matter how "healthy," just because it has to be that way?? The meal doesn’t have to be perfect in the end. Pay attention to a conscious diet that is appropriate for the circumstances. Be creative and try out different things. If changes are made, then please no radicals, which turn everything upside down overnight. Adapt to the pace of your relative in need of care and proceed patiently bit by bit.

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This is how the body changes with age

Theresa Stachelscheid studied Oecotrophology and Public Health Nutrition. After working for several years in the field of nutrition education for older people, she has joined the German Society for Nutrition e. V. (DGE) in the project "IN FORM in communal catering" responsible for catering for older people. One of their main tasks is u. a. Disseminate the "DGE quality standard for catering with ‘meals on wheels’ and in senior citizen facilities".

As we age, our hair color, skin and body stature change. These are the visible things. But what actually happens inside us when the body gets older and how do these changes affect nutrition?? Theresa Stachelscheid from the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) talks to nursing staff about about the processes of aging and gives tips for a healthy diet adapted to old age.

Ms. Stachelscheid, you are an expert in the field of "nutrition in old age.". What is the health status of the older generation in Germany??

First of all, the term "older generation" needs to be differentiated a little bit. The large group of older people is very heterogeneous in terms of their living, health and nutritional situation. There are largely healthy, spry elderly people, but also those who are ill and/or in need of care.
Depending on the health condition, the nutritional status can also vary from person to person. Nutritional problems in old age can range from overweight and obesity to underweight and malnutrition.

Are there then large differences, for example with the sex?

In Germany, there are various studies that have examined the nutritional situation of older people. Data from the 2017 microcensus, which was published in the current 14. The results of the DGE Nutrition Report (#*magazine_603cbf3d586d8*#), for example, show that – similar to younger adults – a large proportion of older people (65 years or older) are overweight, with men being more likely to be overweight than women: Almost 70% of men and around 56% of women in this age group are overweight, of whom 21% or more are overweight. 19 % even obese, d. h. Very obese. Compared with the figures from 1999, it can be seen that obesity is affecting more and more elderly people.

What does the nutritional situation look like for older people with a need for care?

On the other hand, studies on the nutritional situation of older people in need of care show that the risk of malnutrition increases as the need for care increases and health deteriorates.

In a study (#*magazine_603cbf3d65283*#) with seniors in need of care in private households, obesity was also observed in about one third of the study participants. However, a large proportion of these showed parallel risk factors for malnutrition. A malnutrition or. a corresponding risk was found in 13 % or. 57% of senior citizens found to be obese. Similar figures exist for residents of inpatient facilities for the elderly: In an older study from 2008, 48% were at risk of malnutrition and a further 11% were manifestly malnourished. The degree of need for care has a greater influence on nutritional status than age.

Can I still eat the same in my old age as I did when I was younger??
In principle, dietary recommendations for older people do not differ from those for younger adults. With increasing age, however, the body changes and illnesses occur more frequently. Both can affect the body’s supply of energy and nutrients and also influence eating and drinking behavior. The nutrition should be paid therefore starting from the midlife again special attention.

What physical changes actually occur in old age??
Muscle mass decreases with age. As a result, the calorie requirement decreases, whereby this is also strongly dependent on the physical activity.

Unlike calorie requirements, the need for nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals remains the same or, in some cases, is even slightly increased. Therefore, the motto for older people is: somewhat smaller portions of foods that are as nutritious as possible. The latter include, for example, vegetables and fruit as well as (whole grain) cereal products. It is especially important to have a sufficient supply of protein to keep the age-related loss of muscle mass as low as possible.

Interestingly, the gastrointestinal tract also changes: movement and blood flow in the intestines can decrease, and it is not uncommon for older people to complain of limited digestibility, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.

Seniors should pay attention to a bone-strengthening diet?
Absolutely. Another change is the decrease in bone mass. This begins as early as age 40. This process begins at the age of 50, but accelerates, especially in women after menopause, due to the absence of the hormone estrogen. This results in an increased risk of osteoporosis. A calcium-rich diet, regular exercise and a good supply of vitamin D therefore become increasingly important as we age.

May also alter the perception of taste as people age?
By. Sensory perceptions such as smelling, tasting or seeing become weaker with age. If the smell or taste of food is perceived less well or meals are increasingly difficult to recognize, it is not uncommon for the enjoyment and pleasure of eating to be lost. A decreasing feeling of thirst is also typical.

What influence can grief and loss have on eating behavior??
Social changes such as the loss of a spouse or moving into a nursing home can also cause appetite to wane and less to eat and drink. Restrictions in mobility, difficulty chewing and swallowing can also have an impact. This results in an increased risk of malnutrition. Illnesses and the use of medications can additionally aggravate this.

Keyword malnutrition: Some people suddenly lose a lot of weight in old age. How does the?
The causes of underweight and malnutrition are manifold and range from loss of appetite, declining sensory perceptions, illnesses, chewing and swallowing disorders to mental as well as psychological changes such as dementia or depression. Also, the social factors mentioned above such as z. B. Loneliness can also play a role.

Are there warning signs that family caregivers can look out for??
Possible signs of weight loss or malnutrition include u. a. Clothing that becomes loose, loose-fitting jewelry, leftover food on the plate, fatigue and exhaustion, sunken cheeks, protruding rib and shoulder bones, or inflammation around the mouth.

Relatives or caregivers of elderly people should be very vigilant in this regard and seek medical advice immediately if they notice one or more of these signs. The consequences of malnutrition can sometimes be severe, ranging from increased risk of comorbidities, prolonged hospitalization, and increased risk of mortality.

What can family caregivers do themselves on a day-to-day basis if they notice that their loved one is not eating adequately?
It is important to find out the cause as quickly as possible and at the same time to provide an attractive range of meals that are rich in energy and nutrients. It is important to incorporate individual wishes and preferences of the elderly as much as possible, d. h. Offer meals that are eaten with pleasure and enrich them with energy-rich foods. This includes z. B. High-quality vegetable oils, such as canola oil, nuts or oilseeds, and mush made from them, dried fruits, high-fat milk and dairy products such as cream, butter and high-fat cheese, and eggs. For people with chewing and swallowing disorders, it is important to offer food with an appropriate consistency and attractiveness to make consumption as pleasant as possible and to promote pleasure and enjoyment during eating.

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