Top 5 Risk Factors for Malnutrition in Older Adults

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5 Risk Factors for Malnutrition in the Elderly

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Because many seniors have diminished appetites, it may go undetected if your senior loved one is malnourished. Malnutrition in the elderly is a serious problem that can lead to a weakened immune system, muscle weakness, loss of bone mass, poor wound healing, and death in some cases. Learn if your loved one is at risk of malnutrition and how you can prevent it from occurring.

1. Dietary Restrictions

If your loved one has been placed on a special diet due to a health condition, he or she may not be getting enough calories and nutrients. For example, seniors with kidney disease may be placed on a low-protein, low-potassium, and low-sodium diet. This type of diet cuts out meats, beans, and many fruits and vegetables, which means your loved one may be losing nutrients. Work with a dietician to make a dietary plan with foods your loved one can enjoy despite his or her dietary restrictions.

Even if seniors have some dietary restrictions, they need help preparing nutritious meals every day. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional in-home care. Albuquerque, NM, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

2. Dental Disorders

Seniors who have pain in the gums or tooth infections may stop eating because of the discomfort. It’s important to address these issues immediately to take care of dental emergencies and prevent future problems from occurring. Make sure your loved one sees a dentist at least twice a year and follows up for any necessary treatments. While your loved one heals, soft nutritious foods such as smoothies, mashed potatoes, yogurt, or bread softened in milk can provide the necessary calories and nutrients without hurting the teeth.

3. Dementia

Dementia manifests in different ways, but some forms of dementia may attack the parts of the brain responsible for distinguishing taste and texture, which may result in not enjoying the taste of food or having a diminished appetite. A registered dietitian can help your loved one come up with a plan featuring foods he or she enjoys that provide the necessary nutrients.

4. Depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately six million seniors over the age of 65 have some form of depression. Depression causes prolonged feelings of sadness and grief that interferes with everyday living. Loneliness, various health conditions, and limited mobility may all contribute to depression. Depression often causes a lack of appetite as well. If you suspect your loved one is depressed, talk with a mental health professional.

Make sure to interact with your loved one regularly to ensure he or she doesn’t feel lonely or isolated. Living alone at home in the golden years can present a few unique challenges. Trust Albuquerque elderly home care professionals to help your senior loved one maintain a higher quality of life while he or she manages an illness and performs the daily tasks of living.

5. Reduced Social Contact

If your loved one lives alone, he or she may simply forget to eat. When your loved one used to go out to eat with others or ate with family at home, mealtimes were both a social event and a time to eat nutritious foods. Eating alone may not seem as appealing. Helping your loved one prepare nutritious snacks, such as cut-up cheeses, fruits, and vegetables, that can be enjoyed throughout the day may make eating a meal alone seem less daunting. It may also be a good idea to arrange for family members, friends, neighbors, or a community group to eat with your loved one several times during the week to prevent him or her from dining alone.

Family caregivers aren’t always available every day to help their loved ones maintain a healthy diet. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Albuquerque respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities. To talk to one of our friendly Care Managers today, contact us at 505-798-0800.

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