What Are Healthy Nutrition Guidelines for Older Adults?

Written by | Updated May 9, 2019

In general, aging adults require fewer calories, but the nutrition in those calories is important. Older adults should work to get a lot of nutrient-dense and high-fiber foods into their diets.

Proper nutrition for seniors is just as important as it is for the rest of us. Our bodies need good nutrition to function well. As we age, we need all the help we can get keeping our bodies in good working order. However, nutritional needs do change as we get older.

Ways Nutrition for the Elderly Differs

  1. Calories: Typically, the older we get, the fewer calories we need to eat. Decreased mobility and muscle mass can lead to slower metabolism and fewer calories burned, making it easier to overeat and put on weight. You may need to lower portion sizes to make sure you aren’t taking in too many calories and gaining too much weight.
  2. Appetite: Appetites often decrease as we age. It’s important to make sure you or your aging loved one is still getting enough to eat, though. Not only does it help maintain a healthy weight, but it also helps make sure the body gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly.
  3. Medications: Medications can change nutritional needs. People taking certain medications may need to increase their intake of certain foods or avoid some foods altogether. Make sure you consult with your doctor and pharmacist to find out if any dietary modifications are necessary.

Tips for Good Senior Nutrition

  1. Make Sure You Get Enough Fiber: Fiber is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system. It’s a good idea to include some high-fiber foods, such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables, at every meal. You may need to consider a fiber supplement if you can’t get enough from regular meals.
  2. Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods and Avoid Empty Calories: If your appetite is reduced and your caloric needs are decreased, you want to make sure that everything you eat counts. Good nutrition for aging adults means trying to focus on eating nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean protein. Avoid sugary drinks and deep-fried foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients.
  3. Drink Plenty of Water: This is important at every age. Shoot for eight glasses of water daily.
  4. Supplement Your Nutrition with Vitamins: Talk to your doctor about any vitamins and supplements you would benefit from taking. Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium are especially common.

Nutrition for elderly adults isn’t too hard once you know what you’re doing. If you or an older loved one are eating right and staying as active as possible, you’re on the right track. But what about those little accidents that you can control, like a slip and fall? To help address those concerns, consider a medical alert system.

Shot of a happy senior couple cooking a healthy meal together at home