The Changing Nutritional Needs of the Aging Population

One of the challenges when living with your elderly parents is ensuring they receive proper nutrition. You must know their nutrient intake recommendations to prepare healthy and balanced meals for them. But if you cannot commit to preparing meals that meet their nutritional needs, you should think about moving them to an Evanston senior living community.  

The food and drinks they consume are different from when they were younger. As they age, their nutritional needs change. Therefore, you must learn about appropriate serving sizes and the types of foods to prepare so they can live longer and decrease their risk of serious health problems and complications.    

resident getting his breakfast in an Evanston Senior Living home

What You Need to Know About the Elderly’s Nutritional Needs

Food is critical to our social, mental, and physical health. Without good food, people become at risk of chronic diseases and other diet-related conditions. An unhealthy diet increases a person’s risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It also increases the susceptibility to depression and anxiety.  

A big advantage of being in a senior living community is that residents get together during mealtimes. This allows them to interact socially with their peers, which helps reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.    

Foods that should be incorporated into the meals of the elderly and those that should be avoided are as follows:  

  • Include vegetables, grain foods (mostly high fiber and wholegrain), fruits, legumes and beans, meats and poultry, tofu, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, cheese, yogurt, and milk.  
  • Keep them hydrated by encouraging them to drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
  • Limit consumption of foods high in saturated fat, like pies, cakes, biscuits, potato chips, pizzas, and fried foods.
  • Instead of high-fat foods, replace them with foods containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Replace palm oil, coconut oil, margarine, cream, and butter with unsaturated fats from avocado and nut butter.  
  • Limit their intake of food and drinks that contain added salt.  
  • Limit their consumption of food and drinks that contain added sugar, such as energy and sports drinks, fruit drinks, and carbonated soft drinks.  

Calories and Macronutrients

Metabolism slows down with age, which means the elderly need fewer calories to maintain their weight. Nonetheless, they should not completely eliminate calories from their diet. An elderly person should consume 1600 to 2200 calories per day. The amount depends on their age, gender, and level of physical activity.

Maintaining a healthy diet requires macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.    

An ideal diet should include complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as they provide energy for the body. It is essential to consume protein in the form of lean meats, fish, and legumes to build and repair muscle tissue. Lastly, fats are necessary to absorb certain vitamins and minerals, and they should come from healthy sources, such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil.


A healthy diet should also include micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Micronutrient deficiencies are common among the elderly as absorption decreases and dietary habits change. Among the most important micronutrients for the elderly are:

  • Calcium: Calcium helps maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis. Fortified cereals, dairy products, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of calcium.
  • Vitamin D: Foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk and cereals, are essential for calcium absorption.
  • Vitamin B12: Animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy contain vitamin B12, which is essential for maintaining healthy nerve and blood cells.
  • Iron: Lean meats, poultry, and fortified cereals provide iron, which is needed for red blood cell production.
  • Folate: Leafy green vegetables, legumes, and fortified cereals are some foods that contain folate and are necessary to produce red blood cells.


The elderly are more prone to dehydration owing to decreased thirst sensation and medication interactions. The consequences of dehydration include urinary tract infections, constipation, and even cognitive impairment.  

To maintain hydration, elderly individuals should drink eight to ten glasses of water daily and consume other fluids, such as juice and soup.

nurse feeding the elderly in an Evanston Senior Living community

How Senior Living Communities Support the Elderly’s Nutritional Needs

Meal plans for the elderly are different. It takes commitment to ensure they are getting the right nutrition. If you are not confident that you can support their nutritional needs, the solution is to get your loved ones to a senior living community. They can provide daily meals that are nutritious and healthy. Check out the benefits of being a resident of these communities:  

  • Balanced Meals: Many senior living communities provide three nutritious meals daily and snacks tailored to older adults’ dietary needs. These meals are often designed to be both delicious and healthy, providing residents with various nutrient-dense foods.
  • Socialization: Eating alone can be boring and unappetizing, leading some seniors to skip meals or choose less healthy options. In senior living communities, residents can dine with others, making mealtime enjoyable and encouraging them to eat more.
  • Access to Nutritious Foods: Some older adults have limited access to healthy foods, which can be especially challenging for those with mobility or transportation issues. Senior communities can provide residents access to whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and other nutritious foods.
  • Nutritional Education: Many senior living communities offer nutritional education programs that help residents understand the importance of eating a healthy diet and making healthy food choices. These programs can also help residents manage chronic health conditions like hypertension and diabetes through diet.
  • Personalized Meal Plans: Senior living communities may offer personalized meal plans based on residents’ dietary needs and preferences. This can help ensure that residents receive the right nutrients for their needs.
  • Onsite Dieticians: Some senior living communities employ registered dietitians who can provide residents with individualized nutrition counseling and support.
meal time in an Evanston Senior Living community

Looking for More Info About Evanston Senior Living?

Senior living communities can be an excellent resource for the elderly who want to maintain a healthy diet. By offering balanced meals, socialization opportunities, access to nutritious foods, nutritional education, personalized meal plans, and onsite dieticians, these communities can help support the dietary needs of their residents and improve their overall health and well-being.    

At Senior Living Experts, we have a team of experienced advisors who will work closely with you and your family to find the perfect community that will cater to your needs. We have worked with over 230 communities in the area; we have options to help you find what you need. Contact us to learn more.

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