Throughout the life cycle, there are very specific nutritional needs that need to be met. Whether you’re feeding a baby, toddler, teenager, adult, or senior, nutritional needs vary throughout the lifespan, so it’s important to understand that as the body changes, so do the foods that need to be consumed (or avoided!).
Albemarle Square Family Health in Charlottesville understands the health needs for people from birth through the end of life. We provide caring, cutting-edge care for the elderly, and look forward to serving your healthcare needs. Contact us now to schedule an appointment.
To learn more about the dietary needs of elderly people, read on! And before you make any changes to your diet, be sure to contact your healthcare provider to fully understand how to proceed.
Decreased Energy Needs
As your age increases, your energy decreases, and your caloric needs will change. Reducing the amount of fats, carbs, proteins, and other nutrients will follow these decreased energy needs. Consuming too many sweets, caffeinated beverages, alcoholic drinks, oils/fats, and salt can lead to health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, for example.
Eat More of These Foods
With the decrease of less healthy foods comes the need to increase other types of foods. Fruits and leafy greens, as well as vegetables, should all be consumed at a higher rate. These foods are high in vitamins and minerals and have a high nutritional value. Grains that are high in fiber are healthier for the digestive tract and colon, as well as the heart.
Drink More Water
Hydration is important throughout the lifecycle, but it’s especially important later in life. Your body’s water content decreases as you age, which brings the increased risk of becoming dehydrated. One of the most common reasons older adults are hospitalized is from complications stemming from dehydration.
Changing Digestive Issues
Your ability to digest foods as you age changes. When you don’t eat enough fiber, you’re at risk for constipation, which can lead to painful fissures and hemorrhoids. Eating fruits, vegetables, and grains that are high in fiber can help, in addition to drinking enough water. With that higher fiber intake, or by following a diet high in oily/greasy foods and carbonated beverages, you’ll likely see an increase in bloating, gas, and belching. Exercising and eating more slowly can help reduce this gas.
Problems Chewing and Swallowing
Eating softer foods could become a necessity with age. Those who have troubles with chewing might have to cut their food into much smaller pieces or cook food longer to make it softer. Dentures can cause chewing problems, as can dehydration because the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva to aid in chewing. Dehydration can also make swallowing more difficult, and eating and taking pills can be affected. Keep the mouth moist by keeping hard candy (sugar-free is best), and of course, by drinking more water.
Some conditions and the accompanying medications could require a special diet, so it’s important to work with your doctor or nurse practitioner to determine your changing dietary needs. And even more important is to stick to the diet that’s been recommended.
To discuss your changing dietary needs as you age, make an appointment with Albemarle Square Family Health. We are geriatric medicine providers, and our team looks forward to working with you!