The older peoples’ food choices may be influenced by a number of Physiological, Psychological, Social and Economic factors. Lets look at some of these factors and why they affect the elderly food choices.
People who choose food because of physiological factors are usually because of:
Hunger, Appetite or Satiety: Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need food. Appetite is the desire to eat, even when you’re not hungry. Your senses, sight, smell and taste play a significant role in stimulating appetite. Satiety refers to satisfying your hunger or appetite. It can be described as a pleasant feeling of contentment after eating. The satiety is a matter of personal experience. So an older person might make a food choice based on if they’re hungry, if they feel like something in particular (appetite), and if they’re satisfied with their food selection then they’re going to continue to buy that product.
Nutritional requirements: These are the types and amount of nutrient needed for good health. Not everyone has the same nutritional requirements; they vary according to four main reasons, which are age, size, gender and activity level. As people have different nutritional requirements, their food choices should be different. elderly people generally need less energy from their food than that of a teenage or adult. This is due to a fall in Basal Metabolism, which is the amount of energy used when resting. So basically as you get older sleeping and resting become more of a daily routine rather then when your 12 and play sport all the time. Other factors affecting energy requirement of elderly people are e decline in physical activity and changes in body composition. So older people don’t have to have as much energy as adolescence because their not always playing sport where a lot of adolescences are. So nutritional requirements will affect the older peoples food choices. Older people should be buying foods that are high in nutrients and fibre, yet low to moderate sources of energy.
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Physical reactions to food: Physical reactions to food are usually caused by appearance, odour, taste, allergies and intolerances. Your senses encourage you to eat and alert you if something is not quite right. Depending on your like and dislikes odours may tempt you to eat or make you feel sick. People are all different and so are their reactions to food. Some people experience undesirable physical reactions to food. Some reactions include skin rash, asthma or headaches. The food that causes these reactions must be avoided and so allergies and intolerances have a significant influence on food selection.
So not just older people but everyone should avoid foods which they don’t like or have reactions to and this will affect their food selections. So physiological factors will influence older people’s food choices in many ways, all of which can determine what food older people should be eaten and what older people need to remember when making their food selection.
Psychological factors relating to food selection are about how thoughts and feelings translate into food choices. There are six main factors to consider. Values: These are things that are important to you. They are so important that they can influence your decisions and actions. So for older people the food industry has changed over years, now there are conventional products and new modern electrical appliances like a microwave available. The older people might have strong values that pealing vegetables and boiling is the better and the right way to go instead of buying frozen mixed vegetables already half cooked.
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Habits: These refer to things you do regularly, often without thinking. Habits can be hard to break as they come part of your everyday routine. When the elderly were little kid they might have been taught to come home from work/school and begin cooking tea. That’s how they’ve been brought up and that’s how they’ve continued to live. Maybe that’s the way they’ve always been and it’s worked for them so why change now. Beliefs: These are what you accept to be true. Beliefs strongly impact on food choices, particularly those religious people. Most religions have law or customs relating to food. Some foods are forbidden from being eaten, while others might symbolise an event. So older people might choose food based on their beliefs/religion. As an older person grew up they might have been told that for example Chinese food was bad for them.
It’s what they were told and what they believed in, so now 50 years on they might now know that this isn’t true but they still sticking to their beliefs. Attitude: For example take a nice cooked piece of steak overed in mayonnaise. There’s no reason why this combination of food can’t be eaten, but for most people it just wouldn’t appeal to them. What you think and feel about how certain foods should be eaten, reflect your attitudes to food. Your attitude towards something can change, as you are expose to different foods. Take the old man who strongly believed in pealing and boiling vegetables instead of buying the already cut, half cooked ones. His attitude is strongly against frozen vegetables.
He believes that no meal taste good unless cooked and prepared with your own bare hand, but if you put the frozen vegetables into a white sauce I bet he won’t even know the difference. So by exposing the old men to different types of making foods his attitude could change. Emotions: Your emotions trigger what you eat. For example an old lady may live all alone and so can be really sad. When you’re sad there’s nothing like a box of chocolates to cheer you up. On the other hand the grandkids might be coming to stay, so know she happier because she no longer alone so she decides to cook a baked dinner and spoil the kids by getting them heaps of fizzy drinks and ice cream. Your emotions are one of the main influences on your food choices.
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Experiences: Experiences are things you have done, seen or felt. Even smell can remind you of the past. Both pleasant and unpleasant experiences can influence your food choices. Take my grandma for instance; when she was a little girl her mother and father forced her to eat peas and beans. Now she’s 64 years old and won’t even have peas or beans in her house let alone eat them. She won’t buy anything with the word peas or beans in it. So this will affect her food selection. Attitudes and emotions towards foods are strongly influence by experience.
So when it comes to psychological factors the older people have a lot of thing to think about and their thoughts and feelings towards food are going to be different to that of the teenage kid. Also when the older people were younger they didn’t have a lot of variety to choose from whereas today one food comes in many different forms and ways to eat it.
Social factors relate to the interaction between people and how it in turn can influence food selection. There are four main factors to think about. Traditions and culture: Traditions are customs or beliefs that have existed for a long time, often been passed on from generation to generation. Traditions may be cultural, religious or only exist within a family group. Take Christmas for an example, the tradition of England is to have steamed Christmas putting. My family Christmas tradition is, the whole family get together and have a Christmas barbeque lunch and most of the time it goes through to dinner. My grandparents had to do it as a child and carried on the tradition through the generations. Although in Australia many people regularly choose foods from outside their cultural heritage, culture can still be a strong influence particularly during traditional celebrations or events. Take ANZAC day in Australia. On that day Anzac biscuits are made and eaten rather then a bowl of ice cream. So the older peoples food choices will be influenced by their traditions and culture. Take my family Christmas tradition (barbeque lunch).
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My grandparents usually host it. They know when it’s coming up and so the food choices would be affected around this time. Everyone buys food but my grandparents always spoil us with lollies, soft drinks and stuff like that.
Lifestyle: Depending on what type of live older people had when they were younger could affect their food choices. If they have three or four kids and now have five or six grandchildren, there going to spend a far amount of money on things like Christmas or birthday presents rather then buy the dearest and best of all foods. On the other hand if the older person didn’t have any kid then there’ll be no grandkids. There would be no presents to buy for the family and instead would have extra money when selecting their food. You also need to think about where you live. If they live in the inner city of somewhere like Sydney where there’s all sorts of foods available. If they live on a farm where they have to travel for food. At the age of 65 it’s could be difficult to see or concentrate and maybe no longer drive. So this means that the older people who don’t drive need to be driven into town to get their food. So this will affect their food choices because they’ll have to know in advance what they want where as in the city you can buy when and what you feel like.
Social interaction: Through the association with people you learn to select foods that create impressions you want to achieve. Take older people who spoil their grandkids rotten. What they’re trying to achieve is to be known as great grandparents and for the grandkids to want to come and visit all the time. Family and peers are the two big social groups, which will affect your food choices. Most elderly people like to interact by sitting down and having a nice cup of tea or coffee with a biscuit.
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Media: The media has an enormous influence on food selections. Things like TV, newspapers, magazines and Internet are used. Think about the adds on TV today that are aimed at older people. Right now all I can think of is the Bushell’s advertisement. Where they sit down and have I nice cup of tea. Or the Simple Right add (wholemeal bar) which aims to put a spring back in your life.
So for the older people, these social factors need to be considerated. The social factors for older people are virtually saying who else or do you need to think about any one else when making your food choices.
For the elderly there are three main things to consider. These are Occupation (source of income): Most elderly people are retired but not all. So these may influence food choices positively or negatively. Before they retire they either worked and received good pay or didn’t work and struggled with money. For the elderly who received good pay, they may have leftover money (saved money) to use now that there retired whereas the people who struggled for money probable don’t have any saved money. For the elderly people the amount of money there getting (pension) will affect their food choices. If they’re only getting just enough money, there going o buy the cheaper and essential food whereas if the person has a bit of money, they can afford the more expensive foods. It helps if you have other household members contributing in the form of income.
Equipment available: If the older people have equipment that are safe and make the cooking process quicker then this would affect their food choices. If older people had no modern equipment or didn’t know how to use it then their food selection would be different. Once people get to old sometimes they go into a home where they don’t have to worry about things like cooking, as there are people to do this for them. The other day my greatgrand father who’s 88 years old and to stubborn to go into a home. Asked me “what’s the difference between an electric beater and a wooden spoon”. I told him that it was just a faster way of stirring food mixes and things like that. He didn’t believe in things like dishwashers, food processors or microwaves. He’s really stubborn and thinks that if you want to heat something up, there’s nothing wrong with the stove.
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I just explained to him that microwaves and dishwashers are a quicker way of doing things. But he still wasn’t convinced. He does not even want to have a try of the modern way of food equipment, he prefers the olden day ways. There’s probable a lot of older people like him that’s why I think that we need to show and convince the older people that if they use things like microwaves, it’ll be quicker and they have more time to do other things like relax. Market access: Some of the modern supermarkets have lift or elevators to assist the elderly people but this is usually in big name places like Sydney. In Wee Waa there’s about ten steps to walk up before you even get into the shop. So the supermarket access will influence prefer to go to some places with easy access rather then walking ten stairs to get into the shop.
So for the elderly the amount of money you have highly influences your food choices.
From all four of these factors physiological, psychological, social and economic, the older peoples food choices will be affected and will/may be different to that of adolescence. There are a lot of things that older people have to consider when making their food choice and they shouldn’t take them for granted.