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Adequacy of nutrients in an elderly person’s diet is important for sustaining mental and physical health. Maintaining a balanced diet enables people to stay healthy as their lifestyles and bodies transform. This paper examines the dietary status and requirements of an older adult.
Dietary Status of the Respondent
The respondent is a seventy-year old female who lives with her daughter and grandchildren. Her diet consists of an average meat intake of 100 grams at least four times in a week, approximately 100 grams of liver taken twice a week and fish once in a while.
She often takes two eggs for breakfast daily and has an average salt consumption of seven grams a day. She complains of lack of appetite and constipation, but only takes an average of two glasses of water each day. Her average calorie intake is 1800, which is normal for a person with a sedentary lifestyle.
Older adults require more calcium, vitamin C, iron, protein, fiber, and folacin (Stanfield, 2010). Foods rich in fiber are important for digestion and reduce constipation as well as other digestive problems. The respondent should incorporate whole and fortified grains and cereals into her diet.
Fiber-rich foods should not be taken raw since they hinder the absorption of essential minerals. Dried, frozen, fresh, and canned fruits (as well as vegetables) provide an outstanding supply of fiber and several other nutrients. Bright-colored vegetables like carrots and broccoli are preferable for people during this age due to their lack of appetite.
Iron is an essential component for the health of the elderly and can be obtained from lean red meat (Wells & Dumbrell, 2006). However, the respondent should reduce her daily ingestion of meat from 100 grams to around 70 grams. She can also try other sources of protein and iron such as boiled or grilled fish, eggs, peas, lentils, and beans. Fish provides the additional advantage of omega-3 fatty acids.
Though liver is a good source of iron, I recommend that the respondent reduces her consumption of liver to once a week since it contains vitamin A. Too much of vitamin A increases a person’s predisposition to bone fractures (Stanfield, 2010).
Eggs are also rich sources of iron, protein and vitamin D, and are recommended due to their serving versatility. They can be consumed as part of a salad, boiled or as an omelet. One egg a day is sufficient for older adults, though they need to be wary of cholesterol obtained from other sources. If the respondent insists on taking two eggs daily, she should only take egg whites.
Due to her sedentary lifestyle and reduced metabolic rate, the respondent’s average calorie intake of 1800 is fine (Schröder, Vila, Marrugat & Covas, 2008). However, she should increase her intake of calcium-rich foods to reduce her chances of contracting osteoporosis, which is caused by a decrease in bone density. Recommended sources of calcium consist of yoghurt, milk, cheese, sardines, cabbage, tofu, and soya beans.
The respondent should reduce her salt intake to less than six grams a day since too much salt leads to elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure predisposes a person to health problems such as stroke. Furthermore, most of the processed foods already contain salt.
As a person ages, there is often a disassociation between body hydration and thirst. The level of dehydration in the elderly is often elevated by the medicines they use, which exhaust their body water. Most kidney complications, constipation and urinary tract infections are caused by persistent dehydration. I recommend an increase in water intake to about six glasses on a normal day. Fluid intake can also be supplemented by taking food and beverages that have elevated water content, watermelon, milk, and fruit juices.
Nutrition is a valuable contributing factor to the health of older adults. Most of the diseases contracted by the elderly are related to lack of proper nutrition. Therefore, careful dietetic assessment is crucial in the diagnosis and improvement of treatment plans targeting the elderly.
Schröder, H., Vila, J., Marrugat, J., & Covas, M. (2008). Low energy density diets are associated with favorable nutrient intake profile and adequacy in free-living elderly men and women. The Journal of Nutrition, 138(8), 1476-1481.
Stanfield, P. (2010). Nutrition and diet therapy: Self-instructional approaches. USA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
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Wells, J., & Dumbrell, A. (2006). Nutrition and aging: Assessment and treatment of compromised nutritional status in frail elderly patients. Clin Interv Aging, 1(1), 67–79.