Malnutrition in Seniors

image of daughter eating with motherSigns to Look For (and How to Be Sure)

While some symptoms can be associated with illnesses or other health issues, they’re important to know, for everyone’s sake. Symptoms of malnutrition include (but are not limited to):

  • Constant tired feeling
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Constant cold feeling
  • Poor concentration
  • Slow to heal from injuries
  • Lack of appetite

If you’re not sure if your loved one has malnutrition, here is what you can do to stay on top of things:

  • Look into their medications. Some can cause problems with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, for example.
  • Talk to their doctor. Take the opportunity to address the situation and make the doctor aware of potential issues.
  • Pay attention to what they eat. Who is preparing their meals? How often are meals served? Are they eating fruits and vegetables, or are they simply dining on candy and soda? Well-meaning family members might be handing them fast food to save time, unknowingly damaging the senior’s health.

How Common Is It?

Malnutrition can happen to anyone, anywhere. According to GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), nearly two billion people suffer from some form of this horrible problem. While it’s true that many of these sufferers live in poorer countries, this doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to someone you know. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Why Does It Happen?

Isolated seniors or those with limited mobility might be unable to go grocery shopping, cook, or take care of their bodies. They could suffer from depression, squashing any motivation to eat or even get out of bed in the morning. If the senior has little or no income, this greatly limits what they can afford to buy. Instead of buying carrots, for example, they might reach for cheap potato chips.

What Are the Results of Senior Malnutrition?

Several health issues can occur as a result of malnutrition, including bleeding gums, memory loss, constipation, and dry skin. No matter how harmless these effects might appear to be, they should always be taken seriously and treated immediately.

What Should You Do?

To help a senior recover from malnutrition (or prevent it from happening in the first place), try:

  • Making meals a social occasion.
  • Contacting their doctor and working out a plan.
  • Finding ways to make food delicious and appealing again.
  • Putting together a balanced diet. Don’t make drastic changes without talking to their doctor first.
  • Looking into nutritional supplements.
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