Currently, the 65+ population comprises slightly more than 12 percent (3-5 million) of the total US population. By 2030, this percentage is predicted to almost double to just below 20 percent (71 million)[I] nutrition news.
The dental care field is loudly lobbying to increase awareness and resource-support for age-related ailments such as defective denture and reduced saliva-flow conditions[ii]. At the same time, the allied health care field is similarly trying – and admittedly struggling — to develop the immense resources, such as many more doctors and nurses, who will somehow absorb the imminent and overwhelming old age-related demand for surgical procedures and other health care commodities[iii].
Yet while the dental and health sectors
to adjust to this demographic trend, the nutritional sector has not kept pace. A quick look at any health food store shelf will see energy bars and powders that are (according to their marketing images) suitable only for high-performance (e.g. young) consumers. Similarly, the nutrition sector has not done a good job at destroying the myth that macronutrients such as protein are essential parts of all healthy diets – regardless of age.
The nutrition sector’s general neglect of the senior community is something that is just barely beginning to show as the population ages, and as the “baby boomer” generation of 76 million strong moves towards retirement[iv]. However, it is inevitable that this service gap will become larger as the future unfolds. Essentially, tens of millions of seniors are going to need to find new and innovative nutrition solutions possibly for the first time in their lives.
The prospects that face a 65-year-old searching for a nutrition solution are in some ways much the same as those facing a 25-year-old: there are an array of promised solutions on the market, including energy bars, drinks, and supplements.
However, this is where the similarities between the average 65-year-old and 25-year-old end because while the latter may be able to get away with experimenting, the former cannot. In other words, a 25-year-old consumer may add energy bars to their eating regimen and realize in a few months that they’re really eating glorified, calorie-rich candy bars. A 65-year-old consumer does not have that same luxury to try, and possibly err, when it comes to making nutritional choices. His or her choices must be wise and relevant from the start, particularly since older people tend to suffer from diminished appetite, and often have poorer access to balanced nutrition than their younger counterparts.
This is a serious problem that the nutritional sector must accept and take ownership of. This means that more than simple awareness is needed actual tangible solutions are required. The basic fact is that senior citizens – like all other age groups – require balanced nutrition, and for many of them, the best and most convenient way to access it is through nutritional supplements.
This much-delayed awareness does seem, however, to be abating. There are currently innovative companies that are creating nutritional supplements suitable for all ages, regardless of physical activity. This suitability is the result of a carefully balanced protein blend that captures all essential amino acids. Since many seniors continue to lose nitrogen and thus protein as they age, it is incredibly important that seniors access ways to compensate for this gradual loss.
These low-calorie, carbohydrate-free, fat-free nutritional supplements also help seniors avoid adding unwanted body fat that would weaken muscle mass and destabilize body strength and energy levels. Furthermore, the ideal product would be available in liquid form, allowing seniors with dentures or other tooth concerns to easily ingest a serving without anxiety.
The fact that America’s population is aging is just that: a fact. It is not an opinion, an educated guess, or a possible expectation. It will happen, and it is essential that America’s seniors be provided with the solutions that they need in order to continue living full, happy lives. The dental and health care fields are already hard at work positioning themselves, as best that they can right now, to absorb this unprecedented demographic change. Thanks to a very small – but hopefully growing number – of senior-friendly supplements, there is finally a reason to add the nutrition field to this list as well.