Find out about the way your nutritional needs change as you get older, and how to ensure you stay properly nourished as you age.
At any one time in the UK, there are 3 million people who are malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. Those aged 65 or over are often more at risk, as our nutritional needs change as we age, and if the diet we consume is not adjusted accordingly, there are nasty consequences such as weight gain, or vitamin deficiency.
Being aware of how nutritional needs change is the first step to ensuring that your diet provides you with everything you need, and serves to keep you healthy as you move into later life. If you use home care services then you will likely have the help of your carer to provide nutritious food but if you live alone it can prove difficult to do so.
Avoiding Weight Gain
Every single ten years you age, you need fewer calories. You also need fewer calories if you move less than you used to.
Although it might be tempting to seek comforting high calorie food, it can be detrimental to your health if it leads to weight gain. As your muscles are already weaker, and your bones already weaker, adding additional strain in the way of extra weight is a really bad idea. Additional weight also strains your heart, which is already working harder in winter to keep your warm. Weight gain can also lead to conditions like diabetes, which comes with its own side effects and symptoms.
The Same Nutrients In Less Food
One of the major challenges with eating as you age is that you need the same nutrients as you did before, but you need fewer calories. You still need fruit, vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy, healthy meats and grains and you need to eat enough to get the right nutrients in your diet. This can be a real challenge when you have to eat fewer calories to avoid weight gain. In some instances you may even require more of certain vitamins or minerals as you did before. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D are key examples of this as you lose the ability to absorb it as well after you get to age 50. Vitamin D is needed so we can absorb calcium so, one nutrient deficiency can lead to another.
Hydration Is Important
Hydration is so important at every age and it continues to be important as you age. The problem is we can forget to drink when we get older, or we might not even notice our thirst. For this reason, you may need to create some sort of system with a jug of water in the fridge you have to work through every day, leaving you with an empty jug by the time you go to bed.
Lack Of Appetite
Appetite loss can happen very easily as we age, for a number of reasons. This can cause problems with consuming any food at all, let alone foods that are nutrient dense. It is important to find out the reason for appetite loss, and to consume high nutrient easy to consume meals in the meantime, such as soup or smoothies.
Seek Further Help If You Need It
It is so important that you seek further help with your nutrition if you need it. Your GP can test you for any deficiencies and advise you on the best diet to follow moving forward. If you struggle with making meals, or getting out to shop, it could be worth considering some sort of homecare, whether that is a home help, or a live-in carer. A home help providing homecare services could drop in and give you support with nutrition and other tasks for an hour or an afternoon a day, a live-in carer can provide much more substantial all-round support dependent on your needs. You can find out more about live-in care on the Live-in Care Hub website, and more about all kinds of care on the UK Care Guide website.