Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Appetite and falls: Old age and lived experiences

By Marianne Mahler and Anneli Sarvimäki


Falling among older adults is a well-known public health problem but the association between falling and appetite is seldom studied although poor nutritional status is accepted as a risk factor for falls. On this background the aim of this study was to understand how older adults, who have fallen several times within a year, related their experiences of appetite as a phenomenon in everyday life. In narrative in-depth interviews, eight women and four men contributed with their stories. Using interpretative phenomenology the thematic analysis resulted in three main themes: appetite for food; appetite for social relations and appetite for influence. Eating was not trivial everyday routine and required self-regimentation. Meals were not an object of desire, but of discipline out of the wish to survive. Feelings, reflections and ambivalence were bound to the lack of appetite on food. The participants were oriented towards the forbidden, the delicious and to everyday food as a strengthener and as medicine. In their dependency on help, home was the framework for establishing social relations as means of social support. As well as family and neighbours, the significant others were persons on whom the participants were dependent. Personal relationships and mutual dependencies may ensure social security in lives characterised by contingency and maintain influence in daily life. Falling is both a dramatic and a trivial incident where life and death could be at stake. From this perspective, connectedness was prominent in all fall stories. The quest for influence and a sense of social connectedness was the incentive to re-enter local community arenas and to express solidarity. In health-care practice multi-factorial fall-prevention should be complemented with a multi-dimensional approach in order to balance the medical approach with humanistic and societal approaches towards fall-prevention

Topics: Empirical Study
Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g... (external link)
  • Suggested articles


    1. (2000). Aging and everyday life.
    2. (2008). Conceptualizing autonomy in the context of chronic physical illness: Relating philosophical theories to social scientific perspectives.
    3. (2000). Culture, health and illness.
    4. (2003). Eating Bodies and Social Worlds. Frederiksberg:
    5. (2003). Ethical Guidelines for Nursing Research in the Nordic Countries. Va ˚rd I
    6. (2011). Everyday health and identity management among older women with chronic health conditions.
    7. (1996). Food choice processes of older adults: A qualitative investigation.
    8. (2011). from falls_prevention
    9. (2011). Hardiness, depression, and emotional well-being and their association with appetite in older adults.
    10. (2001). Health & illness.
    11. (2008). Impact of health conditions on food intakes among older adults.
    12. (2010). Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community.
    13. (2008). Narrative methods for the human sciences.
    14. (2009). Negative mood increases selective attention to food cues and subjective appetite.
    15. (2001). Nutritional problems among homecare clients and nursing home residents. (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, Copenhagen: Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.
    16. (2000). old and sick*the ‘will to health’ in later life. Ageing &
    17. (2009). Older people and falls: health status, quality of life, lifesatyle, care networks, prevention and views on service use following a recent fall.
    18. (2002). Phenomenology of perception.
    19. (2003). Preventing falls in elderly persons. New England Journal of Medicine 348(2), 42 49. doi/full/10.1056/ NEJMcp020719
    20. (1992). Relationship between malnutrition and falls in the elderly.
    21. (2009). Satiety and the anorexia of ageing.
    22. (2010). Social Capital and intimate partnership in later life: A gendered perspective on 60 year-old Israelis.
    23. (2011). The Cochrane Collaboration. Retrieved
    24. (1989). The primacy of caring. Menlo Park,
    25. (1994). The tradition and skill of interpretive phenomenology in studying health, illness and caring practices. In
    26. (2009). Undernutrition and anorexia in the older person.
    27. (2007). Væren og tid. [Being and time]. Aarhus: Klim. (Original work published

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.