Dietary Information for the Elderly Population

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Dietary and Nutrition Information Aimed at the Elderly Population

 

This writing is about examining dietary and nutritional information for the elderly. 

 

Nutritional or dietary information aims to encourage a preventive health lifestyle (Krondl 2008).  Such health promotion information is useful because it supports dietary action and early interventions to reduce health problems at a later stage.  Health education needs to pay more attention to the needs of older people and emphasise that actions can be taken to improve health even among the elderly who have pre-existing conditions (Herne 1995).

 

Finnish academic research suggests that carbohydrates should be slightly lowered while fluid intake in the elderly diet needs to be increased (Boateng and Jeptanui 2016).  The level of micronutrients needs to be sufficient, in the older population, to support the maintenance of health.  This is because micronutrients can contribute towards the prevention of non communicable illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases where the illness is not transmitted.  This information is useful because it provides guidance for an elderly person's diet.  It helps them to maintain the intake of food and consume a variety of produce to make sure that there are not deficiencies in micro-nutrients (Boateng and Jeptanui 2016).  This Finnish research is also helpful because it highlights the importance of particular nutrients (Boateng and Jeptanui 2016).  A particular nutrient that is needed is Vitamin A, which helps reduce vision problems such as persistent dry eyes and debris in the eye.  Vitamin D could also be supplemented to the diet to make sure there is not a deficiency due to an intolerance of dairy products.  This information is useful as it can help with the maintenance of bone health and muscle integrity (Caroline Walker Trust 2004).  A deficiency of vitamin D can cause bone tenderness in elderly people (Tower Hamlets NHS 2011).  Health promotion information regarding vitamin D is practical because this nutrient can help to maintain an individual's immunity, which can fall as an adult becomes older (Appleton 2016). 

 

Vitamin D, and also calcium, can help to maintain health.  It is prudent that older people have an adequate calcium intake.  Calcium can be obtained through dairy products such as milk, and green vegetables; and fish and cereal (Caroline Walker Trust 2004).  This guidance is useful because it helps to explain that these nutrients can reduce osteoporosis and fractures in the elderly.  These are causes of mortality (death) and morbidity (disease) among older people (Tower Hamlets NHS 2011).

 

A European survey suggests that there are other micro-nutrient shortages apart from vitamin D such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc (Appleton 2016).  Therefore it can be recommended that levels of these micro-nutrients are maintained.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in deficient quantities (Appleton 2016).  This is relevant because these fatty acids can protect the heart.  Omega-3 fatty acids are important, for the elderly, because they have an anti-inflammatory action which can help reduce age-related health problems (Appleton 2016).  Scientific evidence suggests that omega-3 oils can be beneficial and have cardiovascular advantages as these healthy fats can help lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides which are high-risk fats (Appleton 2016).  These healthy acids can also help prevent the accumulation of fatty deposits on the arteries (Appleton 2016). There may also be positive small effects on reducing blood pressure. 

 

As people grow older then they can become less active and use fewer calories.   Consequently, they require fewer calories in their diet.  Energy expenditure can decrease with age; however, if calorie intake is lowered then the intakes of nutrients can fall to an unsafe level. This can lead to muscle deterioration which will need to be rectified with foods which help muscle maintenance (Caroline Walker Trust 2004).  This analysis is useful because it helps identify problems associated with a low food intake and how this can be addressed.  It helps explain that an elderly person, who is underweight, can have a greater risk of poor health compared with someone who is marginally overweight (Caroline Walker Trust 2004).  This helpfully identifies the risk of under-nutrition which needs to be addressed.  It will often not be appropriate for an elderly individual to lose weight as this could lead to lower food consumption and a loss of micro-nutrients.


Also, illness among elderly populations can reduce food intake and impair the absorption of micro-nutrients.  Therefore under-nutrition needs to be avoided to reduce a cycle of health decline (Caroline Walker Trust 2004).  The aim of a nutrition policy, for the elderly, should be to avoid malnutrition to optimise health and improves the quality of life (Wilson 2013).  The dietary information that has been studied here is useful because it refutes the concept that it is appropriate to become thinner as you age.  Rather, it is important to maintain eating patterns to reduce the risk of malnutrition (Wilson 2013).  It is important that a diet is appropriate to mitigate the physical effects of ageing as there are biological changes associated with getting old.  These are caused by an accumulation of molecular damage in the body's cells (Stanner 2013).  Molecular damage can lead to the disruption of the cells’ ability, to generate the energy they need to function (Stanner 2013).  This information is useful as it highlights the need to provide or acquire good nutritious and appetising food which can help offset any damage to the body's cells (Wilson 2013).  Dietary information, which highlights cooking skills to provide nutrition to an older person, is also helpful (Wilson 2013).

 

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has provided useful guidance on nutritional issues for the elderly.  Retail delivery facilities are needed so that food can be ordered and foods can be delivered which are fortified with micro-nutrients (Food Safety Authority of Ireland 2000).  Also, catering should be orientated towards the specific needs of older people (Food Safety Authority of Ireland 2000).

 

Dietary recommendations, for many nutrients, are similar for elderly people as they are for the rest of the population.  Elderly people, like younger people, can consume an excessive amount of saturated fatty acids, salt, and insufficient fruit and vegetables, fibre or oily fish (Stanner 2013).  Also, old people, who are diabetic, will benefit from a diet which is for all diabetics of all ages.  This includes a diet which is low on the glycaemic index, higher in dietary fibre and has a consumption of whole grains which are protective (Stanner 2013).  A diabetic diet for the elderly can follow general healthy eating advice which includes more fruits and vegetables and less sugar but with scope for appetising and healthy food (Dyson 2011).


References

 

Appleton, K.,

Boateng, N. and Jeptanui

Caroline Walker Trust

Dyson, P. , Kelly, T. , Deakin T., Duncan A., Frost G. , Harrison, Z. , Khatri, Z. and Kunka, D. , McArdle, P., Mellor, D. , Oliver L. and Worth, J. (2011), Position Statements and Care, Diabetes UK Nutrition Working Group, Recommendations, Diabetes UK evidence-based nutrition guidelines for the prevention and management of diabetes

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Herne, S. - link not available

Krondl, M.

Stanner, S.

Tower Hamlets, NHS,

Wilson, L.


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