Eating right can help keep your body and mind healthy and extend your quality of life. But some older Americans may face barriers to getting enough nutrients or calories.
Physiological changes that come with aging can result in reduced calorie needs, which can lead to decreased food intake and altered body composition, even in healthy older adults. This can be compounded by diminished smell and taste, and changes in hormone levels that affect how quickly you feel full. Depression, lack of independence, and social isolation can make food less appealing, further contributing to a less than ideal intake.
Chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia can affect appetite, energy needs, and weight. Older adults may be on multiple medications that may interact with nutrients, or produce side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and sensory changes that affect smell and taste. Oral and dental problems can affect chewing or swallowing.