Signs of Improper Nutrition in an Elderly Loved One

It can be difficult for older adults to get adequate nutrition, particularly if they are struggling with health challenges or taking medications that might suppress their appetites. However, research points to elders needing more of many key nutrients, including calcium and B vitamins. Malnutrition can occur for weeks and months before it shows up in physical symptoms, but there are a number of ways you can work to spot problems early.

Why Does Malnutrition Matter?

March is National Nutrition Month, but proper nutrition matters year round. Some of the problems caused by insufficient nutrition in older adults include:

  • Weakened immune system and increased risk of infection
  • Slow wound healing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased bone mass, which can lead to an increased risk of fractures or falls
  • Higher hospitalization risk
  • Increased risk of death

One of the most dangerous things about malnutrition is that it can cause an increased lack of appetite, which exacerbates the problem and makes getting back on track even more difficult.

Why Is Malnutrition Such a Problem for Seniors?

For most elders, malnutrition occurs due to a combination of social, psychological and physical issues. Health concerns like dementia, dental issues, chronic illness, recent hospitalizations and a decreased sense of taste can all make seniors less enthusiastic about eating. A restricted diet can also dramatically impact interest in food. Other situations that lead to nutrition difficulties in seniors include a reduction in social contact, limited income, mental health issues like depression and substance abuse issues like alcoholism.

The Signs of Improper Nutrition

  • Have your loved one’s eating habits changed? Make a habit of checking in at mealtime on days that aren’t special occasions. If your senior loved one lives alone, check who buys food. Setting up a meal delivery service or helping them to prepare meals can make a big difference.
  • Pay attention for any unexpected weight loss. If clothing fits differently or there is a sudden drop in weight, it could be a sign of poor nutrition.
  • If a doctor notes slow healing, dental trouble or increased weakness, don’t write it off. All three of those symptoms can point to trouble with nutrition.
  • If a side effect of a medication is decreased appetite and it leads to a dangerous reduction in weight or appetite, talk to your loved one’s doctor about finding an alternative.

Care for Your Loved Ones with Senior Care Lifestyles

At Senior Care Lifestyles, we specialize in facilitating the connection between seniors and the right in-home care, assisted living and senior living communities. We have assisted hundreds of families with finding effective and affordable solutions for loved ones. Get in touch today by calling 410-977-3718, or complete the needs assessment form below to be contacted by someone at Senior Care Lifestyles.

Deborah Bakalich, Certified Senior Advisor®
Deborah Bakalich, Certified Senior Advisor®
Owner, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA®) & Assisted Living Placement Specialist - Senior Care Lifestyles, LLC provides compassion, guidance and recommendations to families faced with transitioning a loved one into Assisted Living, Dementia/Alzheimer’s Care, Skilled Nursing, Temporary Respite Care or a Continuous Care Retirement Community. Senior Care Lifestyles was founded in 2014 by Deborah Bakalich, a Certified Senior Advisor and graduate from both Towson University and Stevenson. Senior Care Lifestyles is uniquely positioned as a local (not National) Maryland based placement firm familiar with Maryland senior care facilities and in-state financial assistance programs for senior residents. They meet personally with each family to understand the seniors care needs including medical, personal lifestyle preferences, budget, religion and desired geographic location. They pride themselves in locally guiding and educating families through the entire maze of senior living options available and will schedule tours on behalf of the family and accompany the family on visits of communities. They are passionate and committed to finding the perfect match to call home and stays with the family throughout the entire process, every step of the way, until a decision is made, and the senior is safely moved into their new home. Senior Care Lifestyles can also provide the family with trustworthy, vetted, and reputable experts to assist with the transition for organizing, packing, moving, sale of real estate, estate planning, legal services, and determining eligibility for State, Federal and Veterans Benefits to assist with care costs. Deborah is a proud member of the Maryland Senior Resource Network (MSRN) where she has served as Vice President on the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Alzheimer’s Organization, Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Mid-Atlantic Network Group and a member of the Business Opportunity Network (BON).

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