Getting Older, Eating Better

Recommended caloric intake, best food choices, and ways to increase energy - these are only a few of the things that change over the course of our lives. Dietary needs, hunger levels, and mobility challenges can force radical changes in the diets of people in their 60s and above, especially if they have diabetes or related conditions or are in assisted living communities.  

Online Advice Based on Research

Federal health agencies can help you understand your changing nutritional needs as you age. Medline Plus provides a basic guide on how nutrition for older adults differs from that of younger people and which new behaviors and diets should be considered. Caregivers may find WebMD’s guide to nutrition for seniors useful, as it covers the basics from their perspective.

The National Institute on Aging also has a list of sample menus, including reduced calorie options for weight loss, for older individuals. The list of Nutrition Programs for Seniors provides an overview of services that can help provide food to low-income seniors. From Canada, Unlock Food’s Senior Nutrition section features guides on healthy eating, maintaining the taste in foods, and discusses why monitoring fluid intake is necessary for older individuals.  

Nutritious, Delicious, and Homemade

There are several books in CRRL’s collection that may help you have a better understanding of dietary requirements and aging, both generally and in specific instances. The Mediterranean Zone explains how a diet heavy in vegetables and whole grains and light on red meat can extend your life and prevent premature aging. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition gives details on nutritional food labels and how to incorporate various vitamins and minerals into your diet. American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Nutrition for Cancer Survivors explores how cancer - many types of which statistically affect older people more - necessitates changes in nutrition and how dietary changes can help bolster the immune system to better combat cancer's effects.

The Diabetes Carbohydrate & Fat Gram Guide is a guide to how diabetes (which is more common in the elderly than the young) impacts meal planning, specifically the four broad types of diabetes. It also provides a list of nutritional values for numerous generic and brand-name foods. The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook details the dietary choices recommended to reduce the effects of irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, which are becoming more commonly diagnosed in older adults.

Help at Home

There are also many local resources which you may find useful.The Senior Center Directory provides a list of phone numbers for senior centers across Virginia that can help with nutrition and other daily living needs. Virginia’s state government offers both a Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program and a Home-Delivered Services Nutrition Program through Healthy Generations Area Agency on Aging (formerly Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging). Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank has a food delivery service designed to meet the needs of low-income seniors.

If you’d like to use a private homecare company to provide nutritional services, some do offer assistance in menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. A list of local providers can be found through    

If you have specific questions about maintaining your wellness, you should consult with your health care professional, keeping in mind that the library does have resources to increase your understanding of how to better manage your and your loved ones' changing situations. You can contact a librarian online, by phone, or in-person to have materials set aside for you to check out of a branch or check out on your computer.