5 Common Malnutrition Risks for the Elderly

By Annette Bratcher, 9:00 am on

It is natural for seniors to eat less over the years, but older adults who aren’t careful can easily become malnourished. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, chronic malnutrition can create many secondary health complications, including poor wound healing, a weakened immune system, lethargy, depression, and muscle atrophy. Family caregivers and seniors should spend some time learning about the most common risk factors for malnutrition and strategies to minimize those risks.

Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Denton, TX, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Here are some of the common risk factors of malnutrition. 

1. Poor Dental Health

Many people experience gum disease and tooth infections in the senior years. When these issues aren’t addressed immediately, it often becomes difficult or painful to eat. On average, seniors should visit a dentist at least twice a year to have their teeth inspected to catch major oral health conditions in their earliest stages. Those who have dentures or other restorative devices must closely follow all instructions to prevent infections. 

2. Reduced Social Contact

Many older adults lose interest in eating when they are no longer living with family members or regularly going out with friends. Some seniors even forget to eat if there is no one there to remind them. Those who are having a difficult time motivating themselves to eat might benefit from meal prepping at the start of the week. Having homemade meals and fresh snacks in the refrigerator will allow them to eat throughout the day without spending hours in the kitchen. 

3. Organ Failure

Seniors who stick to a strict diet may become malnourished if their organs are damaged. Organ failure can be caused by various medical issues, and seniors should immediately contact a doctor if they notice any of the symptoms of malnutrition. Some of the early warning signs of malnutrition include wounds that won’t heal, fatigue, feeling cold all the time, and unusual bowel movements. 

Managing the symptoms of malnutrition and other health conditions can be challenging for seniors. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Denton live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust in professional live-in caregivers to enhance his or her quality of life.

4. Dementia

As dementia progresses, it damages different areas of the brain, often resulting in symptoms such as a complete loss of appetite or the inability to taste food. Caregivers and family members who are worried about a loved one’s health should meet with a registered dietitian to make a comprehensive meal plan. The dietitian can come up with meals that will meet your loved one’s nutritional needs. 

5. Diabetes

Malnutrition can complicate many of the symptoms of diabetes, and seniors living with this disease must be careful about what they eat. Older adults need to follow a strict diet to meet their blood glucose targets without hindering their insulin production. Regularly consuming complex carbohydrates limits the risk of malnutrition and hypoglycemia. Diabetic seniors also need to eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and lean protein sources to stave off malnutrition.

If your senior loved one needs help preparing daily meals or performing other daily activities, consider hiring a caregiver. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same in-home care services. Denton families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. To learn more about our premier senior care plans, call us at 972-468-6010 today.