Posted on Mar 13, 2020 in Senior Health
Today, we’ll be examining the signs of malnutrition in the elderly population.
It’s a perfectly normal part of the aging process for your body to undergo a physiological decrease in appetite. Nevertheless, this is no excuse to start skipping meals or losing out on essential nutrients.
Malnutrition can seriously impact older people and can even trigger more serious issues as your body ages.
Proper nutrition is crucial if you want to stay in good health and minimize the risk of developing chronic and more serious diseases as you get older.
According to this study, up to 50% of elderly patients are suffering from malnutrition. This, evidently, should be a cause for concern.
So, how can you tell if an elderly loved one is malnourished?
The most clear-cut signs and symptoms that you or your elderly senior is experiencing malnutrition are as follows:
Whether you notice these symptoms in yourself as you get older or in a senior loved one, stay vigilant as the above signs typically point to a diet deficient in essential nutrients.
Why should you be so concerned about malnutrition, though?
Malnutrition in the elderly can be dangerous and result in the following health complications:
While these complications are less than ideal anyway, weakened wound healing and heightened risk of infection are more serious still as you advance in years.
We’ll glimpse now at some of the primary causes of malnutrition.
Aging brings about plenty of physiological as well as psychosocial changes. Aging itself plays a role but what are the other causes of malnutrition accompanied by old age?
The first 3 of the following psychosocial causes of malnutrition directly impact appetite:
The relationship between body and mind is powerful.
Depression can cause you to lose your appetite. With lowered food intake comes reduced energy levels. This can inflame depression as you start going out less.
Keeping a food diary can help to stay on track if you find your nutrition takes a dive at the same time as your mood.
If you feel isolated as a senior, this can worsen depression. You might find your appetite and desire to head out food shopping is negatively impacted.
One should react to the first warning signs of isolation before it becomes worse and starts to have more damaging effects, both mentally and in terms of your diet.
Many of the underlying causes of malnutrition are interlinked. Depression can trigger or worsen feelings of isolation. This can develop into a situation where you feel lonely and starved of meaningful company.
If you start to drift away from society and spend your time along revisiting the past, it’s easy to skip meals and even intentionally resist eating.
Weakened financial standing does nothing for the mood. A lack of adequate funds can also influence the food you buy. Unfortunately, many foods rich in macro and micro-nutrients are not cheap.
Try to focus on healthy, whole foods and limit costly processed foods that damage your health along with your bank balance.
Dementia impairs memory. Forgetfulness can extend beyond names and faces and directly affect the way in which you eat. Chewing and swallowing can also be impacted.
How can you deal with malnutrition if it slips under the radar and you find yourself affected?
If you or a senior loved one is diagnosed with malnutrition, your health provider will assess the severity before considering the most effective form of treatment.
Action differs depending on whether malnutrition is diagnosed as mild or severe.
Always be on the lookout for possible health problems as you or an elderly loved one age.
Make sure you have regular checkups with your physician. Remember, prevention is always the best option.
Here are some general pointers for preventing malnutrition as you get older:
If you or an elderly loved one is concerned about signs of malnutrition, it might be time to consider whether an assisted living community might better serve your needs. You can retain your independence while ensuring you get three nutritious meals provided each day. Get in touch to arrange a free tour of the most convenient community for your needs and reduce the chance of getting malnutrition as you get older.