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Nutritional Needs Change with Age

Adequate nutrition is necessary for health, vitality and quality of life. Eating well is essential for seniors because nutritional needs change as we age. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons many seniors are not eating as well as they should. This can lead to poor nutrition, malnutrition, or be mistaken for a disease or illness.

Physiological Changes We physically slow down over time so we have less caloric needs, but we must still meet our minimum dietary requirements. Our bodies also begin to experience a decrease in kidney function, re-distribution of body composition and changes in our nervous system. We need to ensure we are protecting ourselves in those areas as well.

Perceptual Changes Perceptual changes later in life can also influence our nutrition, such as changes in hearing, taste, smell and vision. One of the most common complaints is in regards to the diminished taste in food. As taste buds decrease, so does our taste for salty and sweet, often times making food taste more bitter or sour. This might tempt us to avoid foods that our bodies need.

The loss of smell can also have a huge impact on the types of food we chose to eat as there is a loss of satisfaction that can lead to poor food choices.

Other Aging-Related Changes Other changes in body function may impact nutritional intake, such as dentition, or the makeup of a set of teeth (including how many, their arrangement and their condition). The loss of teeth and/or ill-fitting dentures can lead to avoidance of hard and sticky foods. Gastrointestinal changes such as chronic gastritis, delayed stomach emptying, constipation and gas may lead to avoiding healthy foods, such a fruits and vegetables — the food categories that should be more emphasized rather than eliminated.

Malnutrition may also be the result of some socio-economic risk factors, such as the following:
  • Loss of a spouse or family member
  • Lack of interest in cooking or eating alone
  • Fear of personal safety (which affects their ability to go grocery shopping)
  • Financial concerns
  • Institutionalization or hospitalizations (that do not ensure adequate nutrition)
Clearly nutrition plays a vital role in the quality of life in older persons. This is why preventative medicine and focusing on good eating habits is crucial. For more information and resources, visit www.usda.gov/food_nutrition/. We also invite you to try your hand at preparing our chefs recipe included in our newsletters.

We invite you to ask questions. We wholeheartedly encourage you to come for a tour and to meet our staff. Legacy Place Cottages is located at 2051 Bevin Drive, Allentown, PA 18103.


 Our Phone Number: 484.860.3900

 Our Email Address: Information@LegacyPlace.org

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