Energy needs in the elderly
As we get older,
the energy needs get smaller. The reduced energy needs are the consequence of
two main factors:
1. the reduced basal
metabolism, which is to a large extent caused by the reduced muscle mass in our
body, and to a lesser extent by the reduced basal metabolism activity in all
other body tissues, and
2. to the reduced physical activity.
1 PAL = (physical activity level) the
average daily energy needs for physical activity as a multiplier of basal
entire period of adulthood the energy needs get reduced for approximately 20 %,
due to the reduced basal metabolism, as well as due to the reduced physical
Body Mass in the Elderly
Body Mass Index
(BMI) is an anthropological measurement, defined as body mass in kilograms, divided
by the square of the body height in meters; for instance the BMI of a 172 cm
tall person, whose weight is 65 kg , is calculated in the following way: 65/(1,72)2=22
shows that it is optimal for an elderly person to have the BMI in the range
between 25 and 30.
An important risk
factor is also the increased body waist circumference. People with an increased
body waist circumference are four times more likely at risk for the development
of chronic diseases than those with the normal body waist circumference. Body waist
circumference and body weight are frequently closely interlinked.
Waist circumference above 80cm is hazardous for
the health of the woman, whereas the circumference above 88cm is considered
very hazardous. For men it holds true that the circumference of 94 cm is
hazardous, whereas the circumference of 102 cm is very hazardous. Especially
dangerous is the slow, but constant increase in the circumference of the waist.
deliberate loss of weight (slimming) can in the elderly lead to muscle loss, to
bone fragility and to rapid exhaustion during any disease.
If the nutrition
is balanced and contains also enough fruit and vegetables, as well as the olive
oil, which is characteristic for the Mediterranean diet, food supplements are
Water and liquids
daily intake of liquids and water is related to the calorie intake, which is 1 liter
of water per 1000 kcal, in an elderly adult the recommendation is even a bit
higher. Considering the calorie intake, this means a minimum of 1.5 liters of
liquids per day, drinking water and herbal teas are especially recommended, whereas
in the case of malnutrition also natural fruit juices with a higher level of
sugars are recommended.
Milk and dairy
products count as foodstuffs, and are not considered as drinks.
It is important
to know, that the percentage of water in our bodies also decreases with age,
which means that an elderly person has a smaller "reservoir" and
smaller safety boundaries of hydration. At the same time the feeling of thirst
gets reduced with age. Both of the above can lead to a mild or also severe form
of dehydration. Dehydration in an elderly adult can more frequently cause
urinary tract infections, pneumonia, confusion and disorientation as well as