Nutrition Tips for Older Adults - St Augustine Health Ministries

March 1, 2024

Nutrition Tips for Older Adults

Aging & Loss of Appetite

As we get older, our nutritional needs change. Some of these changes can make us prone to nutrient deficiencies, while others can affect our senses and quality of life. We may need more of certain nutrients such as greater amounts of protein, fiber and specific vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, potassium, folate and vitamin D. While our bodies crave more nutrient dense foods, it is typical that the feeling of hunger can diminish as we age. It is completely normal for a decrease in appetite to occur and is no need for panic. Staying on top of our nutritional needs not only improves our physical health, but our mental and emotional health as well. Understanding more about this can better prepare us to sustain a healthy diet and lifestyle!

Reasons behind loss of appetite in older adults

As we know, proper nutrition is of the utmost importance to our overall health. As we age, our lifestyle and physiological changes can cause a loss of appetite, including:

  • Hormones change altering our hunger signals to the brain
  • Decrease in vibrancy of senses, making food less appealing
  • Certain medications giving off metallic notes to our taste buds (potential of this with antibiotics, neurological medications, endocrines, and more)
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • A lack of routine
  • Loneliness and depression
  • Dehydration

Nutritional Tips

Our nutritional needs become more about quality rather than quantity. Try incorporating some of these suggestions into your daily routine:

  • Switching to high protein sources like milk, cheese, eggs, beef, chicken, fish, and soy 

  • Increasing movement will increase the amount of energy burned, which will then send hunger signals to the brain letting the body know it needs fuel

  • Selecting high-fiber foods like whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, unsalted nuts and seeds, deeply colored vegetables (like green beans), and fruits

  • Scheduling mealtime can help us reach our goals by introducing a consistent routine since our bodies thrive off regularity

  • Portioning out meals so that the metabolism stays active, eating 6+ smaller meals a day instead of 3 larger ones

  • Drinking calories instead with a protein shake, high calorie supplement drink, and/or use fruit in a milkshake to increase flavor and nutritional value

  • Introducing nutrient dense foods with healthy fats like peanut butter, avocado, and olive oil to provide calorie-rich options

  • Adding mint into water to help aid with dehydration

  • Making it a social occasion by promoting eating with friends or in social circles to increase the likelihood of enjoying mealtimes

Senior living communities can aid in regulating appetite and meeting dietary needs. Each meal is crafted by dieticians to ensure that each person gets the necessary nutrients. Chef Donly from St. Augustine Towers Assisted Living remarks on the importance of properly fueling our bodies –

The food you eat can serve one of two purposes: It can be the most powerful medicine or the biggest detriment to your health. Here at the Towers, we strive to serve the most nutritious and delicious meals possible. Not only do our meals serve to nourish the body, but we also do our best to nourish the spirit through our family centered dining program.

Donly, Director of Residential Services

Dining with others in a senior living environment can also promote appetite. The scheduled mealtimes gradually become a social activity to enjoy food among others.

I really do believe that our residents eating together as a family for mealtime helps to improve nutrition and overall health.

Donly, Director of Residential Services

Learn more about St. Augustine Towers Assisted Living today!

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