Too low an energy content and a bad composition of the meals characterize the nutrition of most seniors. Through meals, they do not get what they desperately need: a need-based and adequate nutritional intake. Often a malnutrition is the result. In old age, energy demand declines due to declining physical activity, but the demand for vitamins, trace elements and essential fatty acids remains unchanged - the protein requirement is even higher. The claim to the composition of the food increases accordingly, a higher nutrient density is required.
Causes of malnutrition in old age
But what seniors actually consume rarely meets these requirements. Milk soups, pudding, cooked vegetables, low meat and certainly no fish - that's what the diet often looks like. The food loses importance and no longer gives pleasure. Shopping and preparation are problematic, fresh food is rarely used, multi-warmed food is always on the table. Home-based seniors are particularly at risk of being underweight.
Loneliness spoils the appetite, taking medication, problems with the masticatory apparatus, multiple additional illnesses and lack of exercise promote the restriction of eating to a minimum. Low meat intake is also one of the reasons for the inadequate protein intake, which causes protein deficiency in 30 to 65 percent of hospitalized and 50 percent of nursing homes.
Lean seniors need astronaut food
Continuously decreasing and ever thinner seniors are considered normal. Nursing institutions lack staffing and time to care for their meals. Dysphagia causes anxiety while eating, out-of-the-mouth foods cause that very old people out of shame and embarrassment in the company of the roommate barely eat. This often leads to malnutrition in old age.
Frighteningly, many GPs limit themselves to prescribing vitamin supplements that provide no energy and no proteins. It is also incomprehensible that astronaut food, which provides an ideal composition of nutrients and is adapted to the most diverse clinical pictures, has hardly been used so far. This is a simple and reliable support for seniors.
Prevent malnutrition in old age
Simple methods such as looking in the fridge or asking for a change in dress size will provide helpful information. If an oral supply is no longer sufficient, Sondenkost can compensate for the food shortage. An acceptable quality of life into old age is only possible if the basic need for food is satisfied satisfactorily. This is just as important for seniors as it is for children, but it is not clear to the population. No one should dismiss underweight as normal and accepted age.
The Society for Nutritional Medicine and Dentistry eV provides support through its Nutritional Advisory Service.