Malnutrition happens when the body does not receive sufficient nutrients from the foods you consume daily to function properly. While malnutrition is damaging at any age, it has a particularly negative impact on older persons. For older adults who are unwell or have a chronic health condition, malnutrition can be especially harmful. When an older adult is malnourished, they become vulnerable and can develop a variety of health problems. We have put together a guide to malnutrition to help you spot the warning signs and manage the symptoms in yourself or your loved ones.
Signs of Malnutrition
Some of the common signs of malnutrition include unexpected weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, swelling, or fluid accumulation. Malnutrition happens when a person does not eat adequate healthy foods or does not have enough sustenance. A variety of factors may affect the quantity and kinds of food that older persons consume.
Risks of Malnutrition
Malnutrition can cause a variety of health problems in older people, such as the increased risk of death and hospitalization. With a weakened immune system, there is a higher likelihood of infection from wounds that are unable to heal properly. The lack of nutrition can also cause the muscles to be frail, which can result in more fractures and falls.
Factors Contributing to Malnutrition
Malnutrition is typically caused by a lack of food or a nutrient-deficient diet. However, it is usually more complicated than that as it can be caused by a combination of social, physical, and psychological factors. For example, a person suffering from dementia may forget to eat or buy food, resulting in irregular eating patterns. Some medications can also influence your appetite, making you eat less or not absorb the full nutrients from the meal. At times, being isolated from people can also cause a loss of interest in eating and cooking as you grow older.
Ways to Improve Daily Nutrition
It would be wise to encourage healthier food choices if you are considering making a conscious effort to enhance the nutritional value of your meals. It is also a good idea to use ingredients that are high in vitamins and nutrients, such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good snack? You should, however, switch to snacking on nutritious foods such as apples or berries to ensure that the effort you put into your healthy meals does not go to waste due to unhealthy snacking habits.
Considerations for Nutrition in Older Adults
If you are assisting a loved one, you should consult with their family doctor and seek as much professional assistance as possible. The doctor would be well-informed about the risks of malnutrition, health issues, and necessary medications.
Managing your daily meals as you get older may appear to be a difficult challenge. However, if you know where to look for assistance, it does not have to be all that difficult. One option is to relocate to a retirement community that assists older adults with their day-to-day requirements. You can leave the hassle of planning to the experts and enjoy your day however you see fit, from ensuring you have a balanced meal regularly to organizing regular wellness classes.