Aging can bring a lot of changes that can alter how a person eats that can eventually lead to nutrition problems. Getting older can diminish sensory systems and dull taste, smell, vision, and hearing. Less than sharp senses can reduce the appetite and make eating unappealing. If an older person has dental or swallowing problems, eating properly can be even more difficult. Fatigue and/or cognitive problems can even take away the desire for food. A decreased appetite and/or compromised ability to eat can put older people in danger of undernutrition. This condition can lead to serious problems for older people and could lead to hospitalization and even death.
Common symptoms of undernutrition
- Weight loss
- Poor nutritional intake
- Muscle mass loss
- Body composition changes
Liquid nutrition can help
Although food is best, supplemental nutrition shakes and drinks can be helpful for people who struggle with loss of appetite and eating problems. These beverages provide a healthy balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Available in a wide range of flavors, they can be used to replace snacks and meals or used in conjunction with meals, if a person needs to gain weight. Older people need more of certain nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D, potassium and fiber. These nutrients are important for preventing bone loss, maintaining nerve function, promoting healthy digestion and managing cholesterol. Many popular brands of supplemental nutrition tailor their formulas to the needs of the older population. Several supplemental nutrition beverages also are formulated for specific health conditions such as diabetes, gluten intolerance, and the use of a feeding tube. Easy to store and drink, supplemental nutrition formulas come in ready to drink liquids or easily prepared powders that can also be added to foods or other liquids such as milk.
If you are experiencing problems eating or getting enough nutrition in your diet, consult your healthcare provider.