Eating difficulties, nutrition, meal preferences and experiences among elderly: a literature overview from a Scandinavian context

Maria Nyberg, Viktoria Olsson, Zada Pajalic, Gerd Örtman, Håkan S. Andersson, Anna Blücher, Karin Wendin, Albert Westergren

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Abstract

The risk of malnutrition increases with ageing, resulting in poorer health and higher risk of disease. Eating difficulties are important risk factors for malnutrition. Moreover, independence in relation to food and meals is highly rated by the elderly and has been associated with health and well-being. The purpose of this literature overview was to provide insights into nutritional status, food choice and preferences as well as the meal situations of home-living elderly (65+) people with motoric eating difficulties focusing on Scandinavia. The overall aim is to support independence and to prevent malnutrition. Nutritional status in the elderly was found to be negatively influenced by motoric eating difficulties including problems with manipulating food on the plate and transporting food to the mouth. Motoric eating difficulties may result in practical simplifications such as use of pre-prepared meals, less advanced cooking, and omission of certain meal constituents in order to avoid e.g. mismanagement and spillage. Eating difficulties are often accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame. Choosing smaller portions, reducing the number of eating episodes and not cooking independently have been associated with a higher risk of malnutrition. The nutritional effects of eating difficulties may be exacerbated by diminished chemosensory functions. Furthermore, both past and present food preferences should be considered in order to meet nutritional needs and meal satisfaction. Development of refined and socially accepted eating aids, in combination with tasty and nutritious products, is important in order to promote healthy and independent living among home-living elderly with motoric eating difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-37
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Food Research
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Geriatrics (30222)

Keywords

  • eating difficulties
  • elderly
  • food choice
  • malnutrition
  • meal situation
  • nutritional status

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