Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Abstract

In response to increasing number of older Australians (from 13% over 65 in 2004 to 28% by 2051), policy makers have been exploring strategies aimed at maintaining older adults' quality of life. Nutrition has been recognised as an effective preventive measure to promote well-being among older adults. The purpose of the current paper is to review relevant literature in the area of nutrition and eating behaviour in older adulthood. Biological issues, psychological factors, and social as well as environmental aspects are reviewed. Issues related to the ageing process, mental illness, chronic conditions, body image, social isolation and poverty represent barriers to healthy eating whereas factors such as self-motivation, positive perception of aging, social engagement and social support are facilitators to a healthy diet. However, much of the existing research focuses on describing eating behaviour rather than providing better understanding of its causes. It is concluded that research identifying the perspectives of older adults on nutrition is paramount to make significant contribution to the body of knowledge, inform policy makers and enhance practice. The ageing of the Australian population (from 13% over 65 in 2004 to 28% by 2051, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006a), has highlighted the importance of studies that focus on maintaining older adults' quality of life. Nutrition has been recognised as an effective preventive measure to promote well-being among older adults. The present study was designed to qualitatively explore older adults' perspectives concerning nutrition and healthy eating behaviours beyond the age of 65. Data were collected through the use of in-depth, semi structured interviews with eight participants aged 65 and over. Thematic content analysis was conducted in order to identify core issues and themes. Three major themes emerged from the data: Perception and attitude toward nutrition, psychosocial aspects of eating; and challenges of the ageing process. These demonstrated that older adults value nutrition for its link to health and well being. The findings indicated that older adults aspire to have a healthy diet despite the perceived lack of existing nutritional services aimed at seniors and scepticism toward health promotion. This study has identified several barriers and facilitators of healthy eating among older adults and can make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge, inform policy makers and enhance practice.

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