Author: Eloy Gutierrez Sendra (Master´s Student, 2016)
Reference: Yen PK. Nutrition and sensory loss. Geriatric Nursing 2004, 25: 118-119
The aging process induces a change in the senses of taste and smell, which influences in the perception of flavour of the foods and appetite stimulation. The scientific literature states that sensorial deterioration begins to occur at 60-70 years of age, being more pronounced in men.
The perception of taste and smell highly correlate with age-related diseases. Also, certain medications are known to alter taste and appetite. Furthermore, it has been shown that there are more problems related to olfaction than taste.
The sensorial deficiencies that appear in dementias significantly affect food intake. For example, the disease affects the sense of smell, taste and olfaction, which overall decreases appetite. Also, there is a correlation between loss of taste and olfactory perception and malnutrition, since the decrease in the ability to perceive smell gives rise to lower calorie intake, as well as iron-rich foods.
The role of clinicians and caretakers is vital in order to delay the progression of the disease and establish an adequate nutritional routine. It has been shown that the oral conditions that affect the composition and amount of salivation can also affect taste perception. It is for this reason that the elderly must chew their food well in order to perceive as best as possible its taste and help the process of digestion.
The modification of eating habits and consume personalized meals increases its appeal. It is for this reason that the doctors help the elderly modify their habits in order to reduce the loss of perception of flavour.