There are millions of elderly Americans across the country that are seriously impacted by the effects of an insufficient diet. Too many seniors fail to take in enough nutrients on a daily basis, causing health issues that affect their quality of life. Family caregivers may not understand much about malnourishment in seniors and often never think of such a condition affecting their elderly relatives. However, there are many factors that contribute to malnourishment in aging adults.
How Do Seniors Become Malnourished?
Malnourishment occurs when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients to properly function. Many seniors don’t have good eating habits and injury, illness, and living conditions emphasize that. If seniors are living alone and they have some physical limitations, it can be hard for them to get to a grocery store or stand and cook healthy meals. Many seniors don’t have much of an appetite, simply due to age, low energy or as a side effect of medicine. Other factors include financial hardships, problems with chewing or swallowing, depression, boredom, alcoholism, or simply a preference for junk food over healthy food.
When malnourished elderly adults encounter numerous health problems, they have a weaker immune system, so they are sick more often. They tend to bruise easily, and any wounds are slow to heal. Other problems include fatigue, memory loss, poor digestion, muscle loss, weaker bones and weight loss. Being malnourished can launch seniors into a lifetime of poor health. If family members or senior care aides notice these warning signs, they need to look more closely at the elderly adult’s eating habits.
How Family Members Can Help.
Seniors usually have problems with their diet when they physically or mentally struggle to acquire and prepare food for themselves. The best way to address this challenge is for family caregivers to really focus on helping their aging relatives get to the grocery store or bring in food themselves. They may also need to take over meal preparation to ensure that there is fresh and nutritious food in the house. If family members cannot do these tasks themselves, they should hire a senior care assistant to help.
The family caregiver or the senior care assistant can also help the elderly adult change their bad eating habits. For example, they can discourage activities like snacking on junk food, processed food, soda, and alcohol. They should also encourage the aging adult to get some daily exercise so they’ll have more of an appetite for meals. When meals are turned into a social event, seniors are more likely to eat better. Above all, family members and senior care aides should take note of any warning signs of malnutrition and get with the doctor as soon as possible. The doctor can prescribe supplements if necessary and help with ideas on what the elderly person needs.
Malnutrition is a growing problem in the elderly population, but it is completely preventable. When family members focus on good nutrition and healthy eating habits for their aging relatives, the risk of malnutrition drops significantly. When seniors get all the nutrients their body needs, they will be stronger, healthier and more satisfied with their meals.
If you or an aging family member are considering professional senior care in Bay Shore, NY, please call the caring staff at A Gentle Touch Senior Home and Health Care at 631-647-7622 today.