Eating just isn’t the same after 50. It’s true! There are certain physical and psychological changes that happen as we age that affects the way we eat.

Physical

One of the biggest physical aging changes is a slowing metabolism which happens naturally as we age. A slower metabolism means less energy is needed to function both on a metabolic level and on a physical level. Older adults also tend to be less active than their younger counterparts. All this means that less food is needed which can be a tough transition. Older adults need to make sure they eat the recommended caloric intake to avoid gaining unnecessary weight.

Learn more about calorie recommendations based on age and activity level at http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/healthy-eating-after-50

Taste

Just as other parts of our body go through aging changes, our taste buds are no exception. Aging taste buds mean that tastes change as we get older. Food may not taste as vibrant as it did years ago. Be careful to not add additional salt in trying to make food taste bolder. Excess salt can take its toll on the heart as well as other important bodily functions. Instead, try flavoring food differently with healthier herbs and spices.

Appetite

Sometimes we’re just not hungry. But when “sometimes” becomes more frequent, it can be a problem for older adults. Changes in taste can certainly have an effect on appetite, but so can certain medications. Ask your doctor about side effects of the medications you take. If loss of appetite is a side effect and you’re having difficulties in getting interested in food, perhaps there’s an alternative medication you could try.

Psychological

As we grow older, social structures changes. Friends become distant, children move away and a loss of a spouse can have detrimental effects on the way we eat. Eating is an important social activity. Remember those big family dinners? Eating alone is hard when we’re used to eating with others. Sometimes so hard that we don’t want to eat at all. As we age, we have to make more of an effort to form social structures around mealtimes. Perhaps it’s a weekly dinner with friends from a card club. Senior groups and senior living communities can provide this much needed social structure for mealtimes.

At Tabitha

Tabitha provides a lot of resources for older adults who find eating difficult. Whether it’s a meal delivered right to your door through Tabitha Meals on Wheels, help preparing meals, companionship or living communities that provide social structure, the Tabitha Elder Care Continuum has a variety of services along the way to support Elders during mealtimes. To learn more about the options, visit www.Tabitha.org or contact a Tabitha Continuum Navigator at 402.486.8520.