Older people preparing food (credit Centre for Ageing Better)

The nutrition guidance that many of us know is not necessarily right for older people, due to various factors that influence health as we age. 
Now the University of Plymouth has led an evidence review that underpins new guidance for older adults, recently published by the British Dietetic Association (BDA). 
Led by Professor Mary Hickson and Dr Abigail Tronco Hernandez, and commissioned by the BDA’s Older People Specialist Group, the review explored the most up-to-date evidence for six key themes relating to over-65s. 
Some of the key topics identified as being important for this age group included maintaining body weight, with weight loss not being appropriate for those that are slightly overweight; getting enough of certain nutrients; vitamin D supplementation; realistic levels of activity needed alongside nutrition; and the vital importance of enjoying what and how you eat.
Hydration is high on the list of considerations for older people too, as recognising the feeling of thirst is not as obvious as we get older. All fluids count, not just water.

Advice needs to be based on the best available research, not just what we think might be best or what we have always done. For example, weight loss isn’t the best option for those that are slightly overweight and over 65, and pleasure in eating is a really important part of deciding what to eat.

We thoroughly searched published research to make sure all the advice in this resource is based on good up-to-date evidence, and we’re proud that the work has underpinned the new guidance shared by the BDA.

Mary HicksonMary Hickson
Professor in Dietetics

People over the age of 65 have different nutritional needs to younger adults and evidence shows a need for more protein, calcium, folate and vitamin B12. We also wanted to highlight enjoyment of eating as an important part of ageing well. It may be surprising that we are not advising that only water counts! All fluids contain water so tea, coffee, milk, squash, fruit juice, fizzy drinks, hot chocolate and weak alcoholic drinks are hydrating too.

Alison Smith, Prescribing Support Consultant Dietitian, Integrated Care System Lead and BDA spokesperson 
Moving more and keeping active, together with eating a nutrient-rich diet keeps muscles, bones and joints strong. The Chief Medical Officer says that as far as physical activity is concerned, some is good but more is better. Improving balance is also particularly important to reduce the risk of frailty and falls. 

The development and release of the BDA’s guidance brings together evidence-based research into one resource that can help guide older adults on how to not only to maintain a healthy nutrient rich diet but also practical tips on maintaining physical activity and importantly, sustain enjoyment from eating.

Dr Harnish Patel, Associate Professor, commenting on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society 

Friends of the Elderly are delighted to be able to support the publication of the BDA’s Eating, Drinking and Ageing Well resource. At Friends of the Elderly we fully recognise the importance of good nutrition and hydration in older age. We very much welcome the publication of this resource, which will provide people with the information they need to stay healthy and to live well in later life.

Jessica Dean, Head of Marketing and Communications, at Friends of the Elderly 
Vegan food backgrounds: large group of fruits, vegetables, cereals and spices shot from above
abstract medical pharmacy healthcare innovative concept background

Faculty of Health

Exceptional clinical and academic learning, social engagement and research in medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology and health professions.