Aging and the (Chemical) Senses: Implications for Food Behaviour Amongst Elderly Consumers.
Spence C., Youssef J.
The growing aging population are increasingly suffering from the negative health consequences of the age-related decline in their senses, especially their chemical senses. Unfortunately, however, unlike for the higher senses of vision and hearing, there is currently nothing that can be done to bring back the chemical senses once they are lost (or have started their inevitable decline). The evidence suggests that such chemosensory changes can result in a range of maladaptive food behaviours, including the addition of more salt and sugar to food and drink in order to experience the same taste intensity while, at the same time, reducing their overall consumption because food has lost its savour. Here, though, it is also important to stress the importance of the more social aspects of eating and drinking, given the evidence suggesting that a growing number of older individuals are consuming more of their meals alone than ever before. Various solutions have been put forward in order to try to enhance the food experience amongst the elderly, including everything from optimising the product-intrinsic food inputs provided to the remaining functional senses through to a variety of digital interventions. Ultimately, however, the aim has to be to encourage healthier patterns of food consumption amongst this rapidly-growing section of the population by optimising the sensory, nutritional, social, and emotional aspects of eating and drinking. An experimental dinner with the residents of one such home where nostalgic-flavoured healthy ice-creams were served is described.