Many people strive to lose weight but for seniors, weight loss can be a sign of something wrong.
The Mayo Clinic says malnutrition is a serious health concern. Inadequate nutrition can result in weight loss that has far-reaching health effects.
These include a compromised immune system, which increases the risk of infections, poor wound healing and muscle weakness that can result in falls and fractures.
According to senior care advocate and placement center A Place for Mom, the senior population is at risk of malnourishment for several reasons, including:
-lack of energy to cook,
-specific health conditions that impact ability to prepare or acquire meals,
-lack of appetite attributed to decreased taste bud function or depression,
-inability to afford quality foods, and
-side effects of certain medications.
Signs of malnutrition
If a friend or loved one’s bones are visible under the skin; loose dentures; loose rings on fingers; has dropped clothing sizes; or is leaving food on his or her plate, they may be suffering from malnourishment.
You can take several steps to determine if they are malnourished:
Observe them at home to see how they are eating. Routinely check the refrigerator and pantry to see which foods they’re eating. In a nursing home setting, check with a nursing administrator to see how mealtimes are going.
Speak with doctors to see if weight loss is a side effect of medications or another health concern. Bring up any concerns you have about malnutrition.
Provide finger food or easy-to-manage foods for seniors who have lost dexterity so they’re still able to feed themselves.
Encourage foods fortified with nutrients. Supplementing with nutritional shakes can help fill the void.
Make meals social events so the concept of gathering around the table for food is fun.
Mild or moderate exercise can stir up one’s appetite. Walking or chair-based exercises can help make people more interested in food.
Introduce new foods that can whet the appetite.