Elders and the Danger of Malnutrition

Mar 01,2020

Elders and the Danger of Malnutrition

March has been recognized as National Nutrition Month.

Good nutrition is critical to all our overall health and well-being, but many older adults are at a high risk of having inadequate nutrition. We should all be aware of the signs and risks of malnutrition in our older loved ones and take time to promote a nutrient-rich diet for them.

Health Concerns Caused by Inadequate Nutrition

Malnutrition in older adults can lead to many different health concerns, the Mayo clinic suggests that these include:

  • A weak immune system and increased risk of infections.
  • Poor and complicated wound healing.
  • Muscle weakness and loss of bone mass, putting them at risk for falls and fractures.
  • Anincreased risk of hospitalization and illness.
  • A higher risk of death due to health complications caused by malnutrition.

Factors that Contribute to Malnutrition

Malnutrition is often caused by a combination of physical, social and psychological factors such as:

  • Illness and Medications: illnesses and certain medications can negatively affect appetite and the way our bodies processnutrients.
  • Impairment: Difficulty chewing or swallowing, poor dental health, or decreased ability in handling utensils. Limited physical mobility is also a factor.
  • Alzheimer’s or Related Dementia Diagnosis: Behavioral or memory problems that are a result of the disease may cause someone to forgetting to eat or purchase adequate groceries and supplies.
  • Social Isolation:Depression and loneliness causes many to lose interest in cooking and eating.

Addressing the Risk of Malnutrition

As a caregiver, you can take steps to address the risk of malnutritionby considering:

  • Make mealtime a social event by sharing a meal together.
  • Help with meal planning and shopping. If your loved one lives alone, spend time making meals and storing in serving size containers.  Leave a “meal” schedule in writing reminding them what is available.
  • Sign up for local services, such as Meals on Wheels, homemaker agency or ask a civic association or church for a friendly visitor.
  • Monitor weight, mood and hygiene for any negative changes.

At our Elder-Well™ programs we monitor and address many of the risk factors of malnutrition.  Our staff monitors our client’s nutritional wellness in many ways including:

  • Daily nutrition and hydration assistance.
  • General health and wellness monitoring.
  • Social interactions and outings.
  • Family caregiver support, guidance and resources.

If you or someone you know needs information about malnutrition, please contact me directly at kara@elderwelladultday.com

Regards,

Kara Harvey- Founder and CEO

Elder-Well™ Adult Day Program

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