Malnutrition for the elderly is a serious threat to their health. An elderly malnourished person is more exposed to illness, to disability and to institutionalization. Among the causes of malnutrition there is also the reduction of food intake for reduced hunger. With aging many factors favor the prevalence of satiety with respect to the desire to eat. This condition has been defined as anorexia of aging. Gastric motility impairment, unbalanced central and gastrointestinal hormone and peptide dynamics, together with sensory deterioration, depression, social and iatrogenic factors may be found frequently among older person and cause anorexia. Reduced appetite and exaggerated feeling of satiety are also causes of deterioration of quality of life, due to the decrease in the pleasure of eating and the presence of unpleasant, early and prolonged sense of fullness. Understanding the mechanisms that facilitate anorexia could help eliminate reversible causes and reduce the effect of para-physiological changes at the basis of anorexia. With this approach, it would be possible to improve the nutritional status and, at the same time, the level of quality of life of aged people.
Anorexia; aging; malnutrition; quality of life.