NUTRITION RELATED PROBLEMS OF ELDERLY(OLD AGE)
The elderly are at risk of poor nutrition due to economic pressure, poor dentition, aging tissues and inadequate diet, which may be compounded with the incidence of chronic disease. The commonly prevalent nutrition related problems among the aged include;
Osteoporosis is characterized by decreasing bone mass and density. As a result the bones become porous, light and fragile becoming more vulnerable to fractures. The incidence of osteoporosis is more common in women after menopause.
Many of the elderly are obese. They fail to make adjustments in their energy intake corresponding to decreased energy needs.
Anaemia characterized by feeling of fatigue, anxiety, lack of energy is common. Iron inadequacy is caused by low dietary intake, decreased absorption or lack of haem iron, vitamin C or blood loss.
Pernicious anaemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency is common among elderly women. The diet for elderly should include foods rich in haem iron and vitamin B12.
The causes of malnutrition during old age are
1. economic constraints
2. physical inactivity
3. cumulative effect of chronic disease and medication
4. social isolation
lack of knowledge in preparing meals adequate to meet their needs
Aging disturbs the natural rythmic contraction of colon due to
1. loss of tone
4. lack of exercise
5. low fibre diet
6. insufficient fluid intake.
These result in constipation. Excess use of laxatives or enemas may also cause constipation.
6. Diabetes Mellitus
The incidence of Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) is increased due to impaired glucose tolerance and decreased sensitivity of cells to insulin.
7. Cardiovascular disease
The incidence of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, acute myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, and congestive heart failure is high due to changes in cardio vascular function. These may impose dietary restrictions, change in texture of diet and use of diuretics and hypotensives. These inturn may affect the dietary intake and health of the individual.