CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A recent study shows the quality of diets for adults, who are 65 and older, declined between 2001 and 2018.

So, what is causing this concerning trend? Cleveland Clinic’s Ronan Factora, MD, who was not a part of the study, said there are a number of issues that could be playing a role.

“As you get older, your sense of smell goes down, sense of taste is affected and you don’t tend to like food as much as before – your memory of the way food tastes is not the same as when you eat,” said Dr. Factora. “There are medical problems that can affect your sense of taste and smell and affect your appetite.”

Dr. Factora said other reasons may include the type of medication they’re taking, they may have lost their spouse who normally cooked for them, or there could be financial issues which are preventing them from buying healthier foods.

The quality of diet is important for older adults because it can impact their physical and mental health. He knows it may be difficult to improve a person’s diet if they have different barriers standing in the way, but there are some easy things they can do.

For example, eating more fruits and vegetables, along with lean meats. He notes the more color in your diet, the better.

“You can always get the benefit of good nutrition at any time of your life. And there’s always the daily impact of good nutrition on your health, on your gut health, on your mobility. And then down the line, the more that you adhere to these good dietary habits, the better off you’re going to be,” said Dr. Factora.

He said if you are concerned about a loved one’s diet, try to gently remind them about the importance of a healthy diet. You could also encourage them to speak with their physician for advice.