Dependence and Individualism: The Influence of Modern Ideologies on Older People’s Food Security

  • Christina Fjellström
  • Ylva Mattsson Sydner
Part of the International Perspectives on Aging book series (Int. Perspect. Aging, volume 6)


Individualism has become a dominant part of modern thinking which means that each and everyone should be responsible for their own lives. This could be exemplified by taking care of health and body by responsible food choice. People are encouraged to be as independent as possible no matter what age a person is. This entails that nobody wants to be dependent of other people which is expressed in many studies among young as well as old people. To become dependent is considered a failure, and perhaps especially among those who are independent. However, because so many more old people live longer, and are diagnosed with for example dementia, become frail or enter widowhood, means many more will need support in later life. The area of food could be seen as particularly problematic since food, eating and meals in everyday life requires a continuous support. However, the studies (by our research group) showed that there is a dilemma in the dichotomy between encouraging independency and managing food in everyday life when need of support. Older free living women struggling to be independent were at risk of being undernourished because they lack the strength to shop for food or cook daily meals. On the other hand, community food services for older people are based on collective solutions, overlooking the needs of the individual. The outcomes of both examples may have implications on people’s food security, which involves not only the availability of affordable and nutritious food but also culturally acceptable food. In this chapter, we aim to discuss food security by analyzing loss of what we call physiological appetite, but moreover the loss of social appetite, from a societal context.


Dependency Individualism Food security Welfare state Public meal 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food, Nutrition and DieteticsUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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