Nutrition Requirements

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Jasmine is a new graduate with her Masters degree in Healthcare Administration and has decided to open up her own assisted living facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. As she has started her research in what it takes to open up an LTC, she realized that she had overlooked the dietary services aspect of running an assisted living facility. When initially planning to open her facility and considering the dietary services, Jasmine realizes that she has no idea the nutritional needs of older adults.

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What are the caloric needs of the older population? What important nutrients should be considered when planning the meals for older residents? Jasmine decides to contact her friend, Carolyn, who is currently employed as a nutritionist to help her.

INTRODUCTION

We, the authors of The Nutrition Services, wrote this to be an instructional guide for assisted living facilities to be able to provide better food and dietary services to residents. Yet, as we wrote Chapter 1: Nutritional Requirements of the Elderly, we quickly realized that this would also be a good source of information for adults over the age of 65, families with elderly relatives, and caretakers of older individuals. In this chapter, we talk about the approximated daily calorie needs for older adults and nutrients that are important to the diets of the older population. We hope that this chapter will be useful for directors and managers of LTCs, families, and other caretakers.

CALORIC NEEDS

In general, it is common knowledge that older adults are much less active than younger adults. This could be due to a number of reasons: choric diseases that cause pain, aching joints that make it difficult to exercise, or limited access to outdoor parks or gyms. For adults of all ages, when we are less active, our metabolism is much slower than when we are physically active. When planning the meals of older adults, it is important to consider the calories they consume in a day. This also heavily depends on how active the resident is, his/her body composition, how old the resident is, and his/her gender. Residents who are older and less active need to consume a lower number of calories in a day than residents who may be a few years younger and more physically active, or they will be susceptible to weight gain. As you can see in the chart to the right (Figure 1-1) shows the daily suggested calorie consumption for older adults – the suggestions are based on a man who is 5’10” and 154 lbs. and a woman who is 5’4” and weighs 126 lbs. The U.S. government suggests that the older male should consume up to 2,600 calories a day depending on his age and activity level (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services,

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