Malnutrition or malnourishment that occurs when a person’s diet doesn’t contain the right amount of nutrients is a serious health issue in seniors. Know the warning signs and how to prevent the condition to avoid a number of health problems can be caused by malnutrition such as poor memory, weak immune system, anemia, etc.
How to detect malnutrition
The signs of malnutrition in seniors can be difficult to detect— but recognizing problems at the earliest stage can help avoid complications later. To spot malnutrition in older adults:
- Watch for weight loss. Help your loved one check his or her weight at home. You might also notice other signs of weight loss, such as changes in how clothing fits.
- Watch for other red flags. In addition to weight loss, malnutrition may lead to poor wound healing, easy bruising and dental difficulties.
- Know the medications. Many drugs exert some impacts on appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption.
What you can do when caring for a loved one who is malnourished?
Even small dietary changes can make a big difference in your loved one’s health and well-being. To improve his or her nutrition, follow some tips below:
- Encourage healthier diet. The most ideal foods are those that are full of nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oil fishes and lean meats. Encourage your loved one lower the intake of solid fats, sugars, alcoholic beverages and salt. Suggest ways to have healthier choices instead of less healthy foods.
- Plan between-meal snacks. Having a piece of fruit or cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter, or a fruit smoothie between meals is a good way to get extra nutrients and calories.
- Restore flavor to bland foods. Make a restricted diet taste greater by adding lemon juice, herbs and spices. Just note not to use herb or spice blends that contain too much salt.
- Consider adding nutritional supplements. If dietary changes aren’t providing your loved one with enough nutrients, a supplement shake or other nutritional supplements may be a solution. Ask his or her doctor about these options.
- Encourage regular physical activity. Even a little bit of exercise daily can help increase appetite and strengthen bones and muscles.
- Make meals social events. Encourage your loved one to meet a neighbor or friend for lunch or take part in programs where he or she can eat with others.
- Consider outside help. If necessary, hire a home health aide for your loved one to help him or her get groceries or prepare meals.
Remember these tips and follow steps to ensure your loved one’s nutrition in their old age.