Aim: Research nutrition needs of people increasingly living beyond their 8th decade assessing the adequacy of current public health advice to maximise health and independence in this group.
Method: Review published nutrition and health guidelines for adults and assess their likely adequacy to reduce morbidity and mortality in individuals living beyond 70 years of age in the past, present and future.
Results: When life expectancy was approximately 70yrs, nutritional requirements of older and younger adults were similar. However, with present life expectancy mostly beyond 80 and advancing in the future, nutritional requirements in the last decades of life differ significantly from those of younger adults: unique physiological changes of ageing beyond 70 years contribute to reduced appetite and food intake. This combines with the impact of medical conditions and medication use spanning many more years than previously increasing the need for some nutrients and such differences are not adequately acknowledged in most advice. Nutrition Guidelines for older adults exist in New Zealand and in limited capacity in Australia but may be inappropriate for many now 80+ and may increasingly be so in the future.
Conclusions: Most current public health nutrition advice to older adults does not adequately account for the unique demands imposed by ageing significantly beyond 80. Malnutrition currently impacts physical and mental health in community dwelling older adults as well as those in care and as life expectancy advances further, is likely to increase in impact unless realistic, older age appropriate guidelines are implemented.
Funding Source: N/A