Senior Health: Recognize the Signs of Inadequate Nutrition

According to Mayo Clinic staff, nutrition is critical to senior health, especially for those seniors that are seriously ill or suffering from dementia.

Unfortunately, spotting malnutrition in adults can be tricky. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps to catch improper nutrition:

Observe your loved one’s eating habits. Spend time with an older loved one during meals at home, not just on special occasions. If your loved one lives alone, find out who buys his or her food. If your loved one is in a hospital or long term care facility, visit during mealtimes.

Look for physical problems. Red flags for malnutrition might include poor wound healing, easy bruising, dental difficulties and weight loss. Watch for signs of weight loss, such as changes in how clothing fits.

Know your loved one’s medications. Many drugs affect appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption.”

You can also try to prevent the causes of inadequate nutrition in your seniors life. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following could be triggers of malnutrition:

Health problems. Older adults often have health problems that can lead to decreased appetite or trouble eating, such as chronic illness, use of certain medications, trouble chewing due to dental issues, problems swallowing or difficulty absorbing nutrients. A recent hospitalization may be accompanied by loss of appetite or other nutrition problems. In other cases, a diminished sense of taste and smell decreases appetite.

Limited income and reduced social contact. Some older adults may have trouble affording groceries, especially if they’re taking expensive medications. Those who eat alone may not enjoy meals, causing them to lose interest in cooking and eating.

Depression. Grief, loneliness, failing health, lack of mobility and other factors may contribute to depression — causing loss of appetite among older adults.

Alcoholism. Alcoholism is a leading contributor to malnutrition — decreasing appetite and vital nutrients and frequently serving as a substitute for meals.

Restricted diets. Older adults often have dietary restrictions, including limits on salt, fat, protein and sugar. Although such diets can help manage many medical conditions, they can also be bland and unappealing.”

For more information about recognizing and dealing with senior malnutrition, read the whole Mayo Clinic article here: Senior Malnutrition

Posted on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 :: Filed under Articles.