Detecting and Preventing Malnutrition in Seniors
Posted: 3/9/2012 9:13 AM by
Good nutrition is critical to overall health, no matter what age. However, many seniors are at serious risk of inadequate nutrition and it's something we've seen in our home health care and nursing practice here at Interim HealthCare.
Below, we'll uncover some of the causes and signs of malnutrition in seniors and what you can do to ensure a nutrient-rich diet for a loved one.
How Malnutrition Begins
The cause of malnutrition is too often summarized by the lack nutrient rich food in one's diet. However, malnutrition is frequently caused by a combination of physical, emotional and psychological issues playing off one another.
Older adults often have certain health concerns that can lead to a decreased appetite or restricted diets with limits on salt, fats or sugars that can contribute to inadequate eating. Many times seniors also live on limited incomes, which could affect their shopping habits, especially if they're taking expensive medications. Depression, reduced social contact and even alcoholism can all play a factor as well.
How to Spot Malnutrition
The signs in of malnutrition in seniors can frequently be hard to spot, but uncovering the problem at its earliest stages can help prevent complications in the long term. Watch for significant signs of weight loss and take the time to observe senior's regular eating habits, not just on special occasions. Other red flags in addition to weight loss include poor wound healing, easy bruising and dental issues, which can all be caused by malnutrition.
What to do About Malnutrition
Even small changes can make a big difference in senior's health and wellness. Work with doctors and request screenings for nutritional issues during regular office visits and make sure seniors eat foods packed with nutrients. Encourage regular physical activity and daily exercise to stimulate appetite and strengthen muscles. Don't forget to make meals social events and plan between-meal snacks for extra nutrients and calories. Last, but not least, consider outside help such as in home senior care or another home health care service to shop for groceries or prepare meals.