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Evaluating the Causes of Malnutrition in Seniors and How to Prevent itJanuary 16, 2021 0 Comment Category: Senior Health
Maintaining good nutrition is imperative for the overall health and wellbeing of seniors. However, it is seen that older adults are at an increased risk of malnutrition when compared to younger people. This could be due to many reasons such as low appetite, changes in taste and smell, and inability to enjoy food and following regular eating habits. Yet no matter what the reason is, inadequate nutrition can lead to many complications for seniors.
The common problems caused by malnutrition in seniors include a weakened immune system, more likelihood of developing infections, poor wound healing, decreased bone mass, muscle weakness, exhaustion, and more. These problems can lead to a higher risk of hospitalization due to falls or new conditions. In some cases, malnutrition can also increase the risk of death. That is why you need to understand the factors that can lead to malnutrition in your elderly loved one and take adequate steps to prevent it. Assisted living facilities often have staff dedicated to ensuring all residents get proper nutrition.
Below are some of the key factors that contribute to malnutrition in seniors.
- Chronic illnesses and decline in appetite due to any specific disease-related inflammation that affects how the body processes nutrients
- Difficulties in chewing or swallowing, inability in handling tableware, poor dental health
- Dementia or other behavioral or memory issues caused due to Alzheimer’s disease
- Taking medications that suppress appetite or affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients
- Dietary restrictions because of any specific medical condition, such as limits on salt and sugar intake, which lead to inadequate eating
- Reduced social interactions, loss of interest in cooking and eating, or limited access to food or ingredients due to mobility problems
- Depression and anxiety problems, feelings of abandonment, loneliness, grief, or other psychological issues
- Excessive alcohol consumption that interferes with digestion and the absorption of nutrients in seniors
How to Monitor Nutrition and Prevent Malnutrition
To ensure that your senior parent or grandparent stays away from the complications of malnutrition, you need to monitor their nutritional health carefully. The following tips will come in handy for that.
- Watch for weight loss – Keep tabs on the weight of your elderly loved one. If they are losing weight without any specific reason, then it may be a sign of malnutrition.
- Observe eating habits – Spend the mealtimes together with your senior, no matter whether they are at home or in an assisted living care facility. Checking the kinds of food they are eating can tell a lot about their nutritional health.
- Manage the medications – Make sure to document all the prescription drugs that your loved one takes. This way, you can check for the possible effects on nutrition while maintaining the right dosages and medication schedule.
- Help with meal plans – If your loved one is staying at home, you can help them prepare a healthy meal plan and go weekly shopping for the groceries together. If your senior is in an assisted living home, make sure that they provide healthy meals to ensure proper nutrition for your loved one.
- Create options for socializing – Make the mealtimes social events by inviting friends and family members to dine in occasionally. Assisted living communities are known for their socializing options, so that can be a key motivator for eating healthy in seniors.
Caregivers at assisted living care facilities also encourage their senior residents to take part in regular physical activities. Following a daily exercise routine can help a lot to stimulate appetite, boost digestion, and improve metabolism, while helping to strengthen the bones and muscles in seniors. Apart from that, assisted living communities also make sure that their senior residents follow a healthy diet plan with nutrient-rich foods, which include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, whole grains, herbs and spices, etc. This further ensures that your elderly loved one eats healthy and stays fit. Contact The Falls Home to learn how we keep our residents happy and healthy.