Nutrition plays a big role in maintaining health and wellbeing throughout all stages of life. Unfortunately, what once was healthy diet habits in one stage of life may not be appropriate for your current stage of life.
Older adults have a range of unique nutritional requirements. Unlike younger adults whose healthy BMI range is 20-25 kg/m2, older adults over the age of 65 have an adjusted healthy weight range of 24-30 kg/m2.
Holding a little extra weight has been associated with a reduced mortality risk, so don’t feel bad for having a little dessert after dinner.
Other main nutritional concerns for older adults include maintaining strong healthy bones and adequate muscle mass.
Here are 5 tips to maintain a healthy weight, facilitate muscle mass retention, and consume adequate nutrients:
- Eat to a schedule. As we get older are hunger cues become a bit unreliable or stop working altogether. This can often cause severe underfeeding and can lead to malnutrition. Having a schedule or even setting snack and meal time alarms for those with memory trouble, can help maintain diet intake and help you stay stronger for longer.
- Quality over quantity. Stomach shrinkage, lack of appetite, altered taste preference, low energy and even breathing difficulty can all contribute to a reduced food intake. Instead of increasing portion sizes try increasing the energy density of the portion you are having. This can be done through swapping carbohydrate rich foods for foods that are high in healthy fats.
- Include a protein source at every meal. Proteins are the building blocks for building and maintaining muscle mass. Including a protein source at every meal will assist in maintaining strength in old age. good sources of protein can be found in meats, dairy products, nuts, seed, and legumes.
- Have ready to eat snacks on hand. Decreased mobility and motor function is common for older adults, which often means meals and snacks can sometimes be skipped because there too difficult to prepare. Having ready to go easily opened packaged snacks is a great way to maintain food intake throughout the day.
- Drink more water. Just like hunger cues, thirst cues are often reduced in old age. Many of the same principles that we’ve discussed regarding food intake can also be used for maintaining hydration. The most important principles for hydration include; having regularly scheduled drinks and having an easy open water bottle nearby.
Although our nutritional requirements change in our later years of life, adapting to these changes can be simple and easy especially with the right team assisting you.
If you are over the age of 65 and are concerned about your nutrition related health give us a call at Generation Physio & Allied Health, we have a friendly team of professionals that are dedicated to changing the lives of our clients.
All of our clinicians are mobile and come to your own home to conduct an examination. Give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book a consultation today.
Article Written By William Best
Will is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Holding a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from the Sunshine Coast University. Will uses a patient-centred approach for all his clients, meaning that he will work with you to create diet recommendations that suit both your nutritional requirements and your lifestyle.
Will continuously strives to expand his knowledge about all things food-related, including food production, cooking techniques, and different food cultures.
Learn more about Will here.