In 2030, there will be 320,000 Norwegian elderly people over the age of 80, 90,000 more than today. They want to live at home, enjoy healthy food of their choice and eat together with others.
On Tuesday, researchers from Nofima will present a report that will be used to understand the elderly’s motivation for choosing food, and how social setting plays an important role in what – and if – people eat.
The aim of the study has been to identify the needs that must be met to ensure that the elderly have a healthy and active old age so that they can live at home for as long as possible.
– The aging process leads to changes that affect diet and food intake, says senior adviser Ida Synnøve Bårvåg Grini to NTB.
She mentions that taste can be experienced differently, motor skills can make cooking more challenging, eating skills can also be affected. Failure of memory can also make some people forget if they have eaten.
Not least, loneliness has proven to be of great importance. Many seniors live alone, and many who have lost someone may lose the motivation to make proper meals just for themselves and eat them all alone.
Grini and co-researchers Astrid Nilsson and Antje Gonera present five future images that can be used as a starting point for further innovation work.
The researchers have asked different age groups questions to find out what they think will be on a plate for the elderly in 2030, how the food will arrive to the home, where and how the food is consumed and which aids will be used.
– Our findings show that it is difficult for today’s elderly to predict their own future. Social networks, choosing what you want to eat and having conversations with other people are the most important things for the elderly. They are most afraid of loneliness and not being able to handle their own everyday life, says Grini.
Tomorrow’s older people are a little better at predicting, while the youngest age group again has several suggestions that together outline what they think older people will – and do not want to – eat.
– There are no radical changes to be found on their plate, and the elderly do not just want a pill or ‘a shot of some fancy substance’, two of the conclusions read.
The report also points out that it is important for the elderly to be able to eat and decide for themselves what should be on the menu and when they want to eat the food, ie not just have the dish of the day adapted to working hours from the supplier’s side.
In order to be able to do this, it is likely that aids are needed: The food is increasingly personalized by the producers towards individual health needs and delivery services are becoming more flexible.
It is also predicted that men will to a greater extent than before learn to cook on courses tailored to them, and that it will become more common with dietary assistance for the elderly when shopping.
Going out and meeting for social meals is still something that is highly valued, but in 2030 more people think that it may be as natural to meet on a digital platform as to meet physically, and to chat over lunch or coffee in front of the screen.
Not unexpectedly, especially after the Corona period, researchers believe that digital solutions by 2030 will have even more users among the elderly, technology that can make them feel safer and help them remember.
A “thinking refrigerator” that makes sure that you do not shop too much or have food that is out of date is also mentioned as probable.
At the same time, there is no particular belief that the elderly will have a robot as a maid – that will still be science fiction in 2030.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today