Nutritional Needs for Elderly Population age 50 years older


Presentation for nutritional needs for Elderly population age 50 years older. See pdf file for the layout.


Nutritional Needs for the Elderly Population

Nutrition is a vital element of health, not just among the older population but throughout life. Among the older generation, however, nutrition could mean the difference between life and death as well as malnutrition and healthy life. As it is, the older generation is increasingly making up a larger portion of the population. For example, it is estimated that in the next 40 years, one in four people in Ireland will fall into the elderly category (County, 2010). This estimation goes to show that in half a decade, the elderly population will most probably be higher than the younger population, especially in the developed world. For this reason, it is imperative that nutrition education is provided to the elderly, that is, those aged 50 and above, across the globe. To be able to know how to ensure good nutrition in old age, a discussion on the changes associated with aging, nutritional requirements, and tips for achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle should be provided.


Every elderly person is different from the next with regard to age, dependency, and levels of activity and frailty. For this reason, these individuals experience different physiological and socio-psychological changes in their old age. Some of the physiological changes associated with ageing include but are not limited to a change in their Body Mass Index (BMI), their oral health and dentition, body composition and functional status and a change in how they perceive taste and smell (Jones et al., 2009). On the other, hand the socio-psychological changes associated with ageing stem from the difficult and sometimes very difficult transition and the fact that it seems as though their lives are flashing before their eyes. These changes include the fear of death, loss of memory and learning, the loss of independence and the discrimination that is associated with ageing (Giacalone, 2016).

The nutritional requirements are similar to those of the adult population, but with a few specifications. The older one gets, the less energy they require on a daily basis. This is especially so because as one ages, they have a reduced metabolic rate (BMR) and a reduction in their levels of activity as well. As such, depending on the factors associated with old age, one needs to ensure they regulate their carbs intake to meet but not exceed their energy requirements as prescribed. When it comes to protein intake, otherwise known as the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI), the elderly require a higher intake per kg as compared to the younger population because of their muscle mass decrease (Giacalone, 2016). Excess protein intake, however, leads to serious health risks.

Moreover, the older one gets, the higher the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes mellitus and other forms of cancer (Willet et al., 2006). These chances become even greater with an increased fat intake. Therefore, the older population should reduce their intake of saturated fat along with unsaturated fat significantly to avoid health risks. In addition, the elderly ought to focus on meeting their vitamin and mineral requirements. While they do not provide calories, they help the body in breaking down food to energy and include calcium and Vitamin D, the latter of which can be acquired through exposure to sunlight and through following a healthy diet routine. Minerals and vitamins are necessary for bone health and general health among the elderly.

A healthy diet is the key to a long and healthy life. Through a balanced consumption of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals according to need, an elderly individual is able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, promote their energy, and to lower their risk of getting a cardiovascular disease or a form of cancer. Most cardiovascular diseases are caused by atheroma, which is a buildup of fat deposits inside the linings of the arteries. A healthy diet also lowers the risks of getting a cancer-related disease. The chances of getting a form of cancer increases with old age.To avoid these diseases, one needs to eat healthy, avoid smoking, maintaining a good BMI and a regulation of hypertension.


According to the United States Development of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate, one needs to understand the physiological changes being manifested in an individual before coming up with a general dietary guideline (County, 2015). In general, the elderly need to take fruits with no added sugars such as bananas, blueberries, pears and strawberries. Taking fresh and frozen meat and non-meat proteins or low fat and low sodium canned proteins together with low fat dairy products go a long way in making sure that the elder individual in question has a balanced diet. In addition, grains such as whole wheat flour, pasta and bread, brown rice and fortified, low or reduced sugar cereals are a great addition to a healthy dietary guidelines.

Heart-healthy foods reduce the risk of acquiring a cardiovascular disease, stroke or heart attack by about 80%. Therefore, whether or not one has already been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease in old age, a heart-healthy diet helps in lowering the cholesterol level, prevent hypertension and ultimately prevent or manage heart disease. The key to a heart-healthy diet is in regulating a well-balanced diet by taking healthy fats in the form of raw nuts or extra virgin olive oil or fish oils among others. Another tip is to take colored fruits and vegetables that are either fresh or frozen such as broccoli and berries. Lastly, high-quality protein in the form of fish especially salmon and poultry is a key element in a heart healthy diet for the elderly.


County, D. (2015). Senior Nutrition: A blue print for the future. Nutrition Blue Print, 1, 10-14.

Giacalone, D., Wendin, K., Kremer, S., Frøst, M. B., Bredie, W. L., Olsson, V.,&Risvik, E. (2016). Health and quality of life in an aging population–Food and beyond. Food Quality and Preference, 47, 166-170.

Jones, J., Duffy, M., Coull, Y., & Wilkinson, H. (2009). Older people living in the community-nutritional needs, barriers and interventions: A literature review. Edinburgh: Queens Printers of Scotland.

Willett, W. C., Koplan, J. P., Nugent, R., Dusenbury, C., Puska, P., &Gaziano, T. A. (2006). Prevention of chronic disease by means of diet and lifestyle changes. In W.C. Willet. (Ed.) Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Pearson.

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