16 Apr 14 Signs of Malnutrition to Look Out for in Seniors
Nutritional imbalances can leave a surprising number of elders vulnerable. Learn to spot the signs.
April 16, 2020
For many aging baby boomers and their loved ones, malnutrition may not always come to mind as a major health concern. However, growing evidence is bringing light to a range of age-related elements that could interfere with the intake of nutrients necessary to fight off illness, support health and well-being, and maintain a strong immune system.
The continued growth of older adults makes it important that individuals, family members, and doctors monitor nutritional deficiencies. At the same time, they should make certain that they are consuming a healthy and balanced diet. Regrettably, malnourishment is not observed until seniors are admitted to the hospital.
To ensure that seniors can be successful in staying healthy, keep an eye out for one or more of the 14 signs of malnutrition.
Clear signs of weight loss: As you might expect, the clearest indicator of malnourishment is visible weight loss in the individual. If the weight loss is rapid, then this could be considered an emergent concern, so seek advice from your doctor. Find 10 senior healthy eating tips.
Being increasingly sedentary: While unintentional weight loss is often a sign of problems, overweight and even obese adults can be malnourished if they are sedentary and regularly consuming unhealthy foods. See ways that older adults can lose weight.
Loose clothing, jewelry, or dentures: Weight loss could be gradual over time, to the point that it might not be readily apparent to a senior or their loved ones. This could become apparent if you notice clothes that appear to be looser. Jewelry and other accessories, even dentures could fit more poorly than before. Review dental health risks that the elderly should understand.
A reduced appetite: A diminished appetite and hunger cravings is a major signal that malnutrition could be present.
Lack of interest in food or drink: In addition to lower appetite, displaying reduced enjoyment or delight in food or drink items compared to before could be indicative of malnourishment.
Tiredness: Due to a lack of proper caloric and nutrient intake, the body might be responding by demonstrating outward signs of exhaustion. This is particularly concerning if they display signs of being tired when they normally shouldn’t like upon waking up from a full night’s rest.
Easily fatigued: If a senior loved one shows signs of fatigue easily or after activity levels that wouldn’t normally make them worn out, be on the lookout for inadequate food intake leading to malnourishment.
Altered mood: Unhealthy eating patterns can cause mood swings. This is due to nutritional imbalances and blood sugar swings that could be a result of malnutrition. As a result, your mood and emotional well-being can suffer.
Chronic conditions and medications: Different medicines and diagnoses can affect nutrition requirements. For example, some drugs can cause nutrients to be depleted in the body ,creating different deficiencies in the body for needed vitamins and minerals.
Age: The ability of seniors to absorb and use many nutrients becomes less efficient over time. Consequently, their nutrient requirements actually increase. To compare, people over the age of 70 have a different set of nutritional needs than individuals over the age of 65.
Traumatic events: Those experiencing loneliness, grief, or depression, such as through the loss of loved ones or death of a spouse, can adversely impact healthy eating habits.
Wounds won’t heal or bruising occurs easily: Your body’s ability to respond to trauma are diminished when malnourished. As a result, bruises or cuts on the body might take an unusually long time to improve or heal.
Gastrointestinal health issues: The GI and digestive system could be impacted by malnutrition. Look for upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating, and other problems as a byproduct of poor nutrition.
Newly prescribed medications: Knowing that some medications can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, be proactive in finding them early. Pay special attention if new medicines cause appetite and digestion concerns and alert your doctor right away.
As you can see, a variety of underlying medical conditions, lifestyle factors, and other issues can lead to poor nutritional status in seniors. Malnourished individuals are at greater risk of developing an infection and bedsores. Plus, a large number of patients that fall in a hospital display signs of malnourishment. By looking out for the warning signs of malnourishment, you or your loved one can make changes that improve dietary outlook and overall health.
Home care services are a great way to ensure that your loved one’s nutritional needs are being met when you can’t be there yourself. Dedicated caregivers can assist with preparing meals and be proactive in monitoring a senior’s eating habits.
Malnutrition poses a threat to a senior’s health and should never be ignored. Contact Chosen Family today for a free consultation on how caregiving can help your loved one.