Malnutrition occurs when the body has an insufficient or imbalanced intake of nutrients and is especially common in older adults. Poor nutrition can worsen the wound healing process in older adults and is also linked to a higher risk of infection, poorer quality of life, and a decline in bodily function. It is extremely important to know the factors of malnutrition and its symptoms to prevent severe cases of malnutrition. Read on to find out more!
Factors of Malnutrition
Malnutrition may occur simply as a result of the aging process as changes in appetite can make it harder for older adults to enjoy eating. Older adults may also find it more difficult to chew and swallow food, hindering them from having proper meals. Apart from these natural changes, there are also many other factors that you should take note of to prevent malnutrition in your loved ones. When sick, pain and inflammation can cause a loss in appetite. The body may also change its way of processing food, making it harder for older adults who are ill to absorb the nutrients they need. Another factor is medication, because older adults tend to have other health conditions that require them to take medicine. Some types of medication can lead to a loss in appetite, so it is important to be aware of the side effects of the medication that you take. If your loved ones are experiencing depression and grief, or are living in secluded places without social interaction, they may also lose interest in eating proper meals.
Detecting Symptoms of Malnutrition
In addition to being aware of the factors that contribute to malnutrition, it is also important to be able to recognize signs of malnutrition in older adults. Here are the most common symptoms of malnutrition:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Weakness in arms and legs, leading to frequent falls and accidents
- Taking longer for wounds to heal
- Eating noticeably lesser amounts of food
- Unintentional weight loss
Preventing Malnutrition and Improving Nutrition Intake
One way to detect poor nutrition in older adults before it becomes a problem is to keep track of their weight. You can also try to help your loved ones prepare meals together or ahead of time so that it is more convenient for them to eat. In addition, help your loved ones buy fresh and healthy ingredients and cook or plan healthy, nutrient-rich meals for them. If possible, try to eat together with your loved ones and make mealtime a social event. This will encourage older adults to be more willing to eat, and you can also monitor their eating habits and the amount of food they usually eat.
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