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  • Maddy Belaustegui

NUTRITION FOR OLDER ADULTS

Aging can bring a host of physical and mental changes. Some of these changes are a result of genetics or happen naturally. For example, sarcopenia is the loss of muscle tissue as a natural part of the aging process. Additionally, the risk of chronic diseases increase with age, and the incidences of osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney complications, etc. increase. This is coupled with the problem that as people age, food intake often decreases because of physiological factors that alter eating and appetite. There are changes in nutrient absorption as well and issues with the teeth, swallowing or urinating may cause older adults to alter their eating and drinking patterns. Additionally, mental decline can make it difficult for adults to carry out activities of daily living, which may include preparing their own meals. Overall, the goal of nutrition intervention for the older adult is maintenance of good health and well-being and reduction of the risk of chronic and debilitating diseases.


Here are several nutrition-related concerns that older adults should be aware of:


Bone Health

  • Low vitamin D status in older adults is common and is affected by multiple mechanisms throughout the body. For adults ages 51 to 70 years, the DRI for vitamin D is 800 IU. The recommended intake of calcium for adults older than 50 years is 1,200 mg.

B Vitamin Anemias

  • Folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 intake and utilization may be affected in the elderly. To meet these and other nutrient needs in the older adult, dietary supplementation is sometimes needed.

Fluids

  • Proper fluid intake in older adults is often an issue and dehydration can lead to other complications. A fluid intake of 30 mL/kg of body weight or a minimum of 1.5 L/d is recommended for elderly individuals unless there are other medical constraints.

Remember that many issues older adults may face can be addressed with proper nutrition. Dementia, depression, muscle fatigue, lack of balance, dizziness, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and many more conditions are influenced by nutritional factors. Additionally, many adults are on a number of medications and it is important to make sure food or supplement choices are not interacting with these medications. So consider seeing a dietitian to work through the changes of this stage of life and prevent physical and cognitive decline.


Refs:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition Care Manual | https://www-nutritioncaremanual-org.ezproxy3.lhl.uab.edu/topic.cfm?ncm_toc_id=268684



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