Older persons are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition and attempts to provide them with adequate nutrition encounter many practical problems. Since both lean body mass and basal metabolic rate decline with age, an older person’s energy requirement per kilogram of body weight is also reduced. Many of the diseases suffered by older persons are the result of dietary factors. These factors are then compounded by changes that naturally occur with the ageing process. Degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer, which are among the most common diseases affecting older persons, are all diet-affected. Micronutrient deficiencies are often common in elderly people due to a number of factors such as their reduced food intake and a lack of variety in the foods they eat. Another factor is the price of foods rich in micronutrients, which further discourages their consumption. Compounding this situation is the fact that the elderly often suffer from decreased immune function, which contributes to this group’s increased morbidity and mortality. Other significant age-related changes include the loss of cognitive function and deteriorating vision, all of which hinder good health and dietary habits in old age (reference: World Health Organization).

Priority areas

  • Review, develop and implement national geriatric strategy and guidelines
  • Capacity building of service providers on geriatric nutrition
  • Advocate and create awareness on geriatric nutrition
  • Establish geriatric nutrition monitoring and evaluation systems

Expected Outcome: Reduced prevalence of malnutrition among older persons