The senior population is more susceptible to disease, and the natural wear and tear on the body that comes with aging. Poor diet habits and malnutrition can compound these effects quickly, resulting in a decline in physical health and cognitive ability.
Some additional health issues caused by malnutrition in seniors, according to the Mayo Clinic include:
- A weakened immune system
- Poor wound healing
- Muscle weakness and decreased bone mass
- Increased risk of hospitalization or death
What Leads to Malnutrition in Seniors?
Malnutrition may seem like a straightforward issue, but there are several factors that can lead someone down this path. Factors such as new medications, depression, restricted diets, or dementia can have an impact on seniors’ eating habits. It’s important to look at lifestyle on a whole, to determine if there are factors somewhere in their day that might be contributing to declining eating habits.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent or Correct Malnutrition
There are plenty of steps that can be taken to monitor the nutritional health of seniors. The key is to watch for weight loss or other signs of malnutrition in seniors.
- Observe their habits by spending mealtimes together. Pay attention to what types of foods are eaten and how much. If they are consistently avoiding fruits and vegetables, or foods with proteins, it may lead to malnutrition.
- Keep a record of all medications and possible side effects.
- If your loved one is still living independently, you can help with meal planning, shopping, and cooking. This gives you maximum input into your loved one’s diet.
- Keep them company while eating. This can be a social time when you catch up on each other’s day.
Improving Nutritional Habits
Malnutrition in seniors can be a serious health issue. Improving your loved one’s nutrition may not happen overnight. Instead, it’s a process. But by following the above tips and making sure that they are eating a nutrient-rich diet, you can greatly improve their overall health and reduce the risk of disease.