As we get older our bodies begin to change. Our metabolism slows down and energy needs decrease. Although this often means eating less to maintain the same weight, some people are at risk of losing weight as they get older.

Vitamin and mineral needs remain largely the same. So it’s important that the foods we choose are nutrient rich; ones that provide lots of vitamins and minerals. However, there is a slight change in requirements for protein which is very important for maintaining muscle and bone health.

The best way for older people to get all the nutrients they need is to continue to eat a wide variety of foods from the food groups – plenty of starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, some dairy foods and some protein-rich foods.

Milk and dairy foods

Just as when we are young, at this age bone health is very important. As well as being good sources of protein, milk, hard cheese and yogurt are also important sources of calcium, which is important for our bones (see Calcium). In fact, milk, hard cheese and yogurt are the main suppliers of calcium to the UK diet.

Foods from the dairy group contain other important nutrients too – for example, milk contains riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2), which has a number of roles such as helping with normal vision, and vitamin B12 which helps the immune system to function. Additionally, milk is rich in iodine and contains phosphorus and potassium.

Tips

  • As we get older our sense of taste declines, which can make food seem less appetising. Using a small amount of strong tasting cheese, like Mature Cheddar, can add to eating enjoyment and boost calcium and protein intake.
  • It is not uncommon for appetite to diminish as we get older, meaning that we eat less. However, it’s important to get all the energy and nutrients that our bodies need. Having smaller meals and frequent snacks is a good idea for those struggling to eat three large meals a day.
  • Snack on nutritious food such as:
    • Beans on toast with a sprinkle of cheese
    • Stewed fruit served with yogurt
    • Porridge made with milk and served with fruit
    • Soups with added cheese or milk
    • Milky drinks

Drinks

As we get older, our sense of thirst can be reduced, putting us at risk of dehydration.

Dehydration can cause headaches as well as dizziness and tiredness. It can also increase the likelihood of constipation, urinary tract infections and other health problems.

It is recommended to drink at least six to eight mugs, cups or glasses (approximately 1.2 litres or two and a half pints) of fluid every day – more during hot weather or exercise.

Water, milk, tea, and coffee all count but alcoholic drinks don’t.

Home milk delivery

Home milk delivery can be a convenient way for you to get your milk, particularly those who find shopping difficult. Most milkmen deliver other groceries too, including eggs, fruit juice, and cereal.

FIND YOUR LOCAL MILK DELIVERY SERVICE
  • 4 retro recipe postcards to help support older adults at risk of malnutrition.

    4 POSTCARDS SET DOWNLOAD PDF

Last reviewed: 03/2019
Next review due: 03/2021