The world’s population is getting older. This shines a light on elderly health and wellness needs, especially their lack of proper nutrients. Despite efforts by senior living communities to fix this issue, it sadly remains common. Knowing why can help us create specific solutions for our aging folks’ well-being.
Age-Related Changes in Absorption and Metabolism
Aging alters our bodies. Nutrient absorption and usage change due to less stomach acid production, which affects nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium, and iron intake.
Also, the liver slows down in processing vitamins and minerals. These changes combined mean an older person may not get enough essential nutrients even with a balanced diet because of decreased nutrient breakdown and uptake.
Dietary Restrictions and Medications
Many seniors take meds for ongoing health issues, which can mess with nutrient absorption or drain certain nutrients. For example, drugs often used for acid reflux might reduce magnesium, calcium, and B12 uptake if taken over a long time.
Elderly folks may also have diet limits due to allergies or specific health conditions. This means they could miss out on various foods and their benefits. If someone cuts dairy from their meals without replacing it in another way (like supplements), they might not get enough calcium and vitamin D.
Physical Limitations and Decreased Appetite
As people age, physical issues can make it harder to eat well. Things like moving less, dental problems, or struggling with meal prep affect the variety and quality of their food. Shopping for groceries or cooking fresh meals might become too much for many elderly people over time.
Alongside this is that they often naturally feel like eating less as they get older, which means fewer nutrients being taken in even without them meaning to do so. This makes existing nutrient deficiencies worse.
Social and Economic Factors
Social and economic factors can affect senior nutrition, too. Older folks living alone might skip meals or go for easy but not-so-nutritious food due to loneliness or a lack of desire to cook just for themselves. Money matters as well.
Fresh, nutrient-filled foods may be more expensive, pushing those on fixed incomes towards cheaper processed options with less nutritional value. Without shared meal times, the quality of what they eat could drop further.
In summary, there are many reasons why older adults may be lacking in nutrients – from physical and medical factors to social or economic issues.
But the first step towards a solution is acknowledging these challenges exist. It is through understanding them that we can create strategies to ensure our aging population meets all of their nutritional needs for maintaining good health and living dynamic lives.