What Are the Risk Factors for Malnutrition in Older Adults?

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Malnutrition is a common senior health issue that can lead to other serious problems, such as illnesses and broken bones, and it occurs when a senior doesn’t get enough calories, nutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and protein each day. Even seniors who routinely eat large meals can end up with malnutrition if they don’t eat the right types of foods. Understanding the main risk factors for malnutrition can help you reduce the chance that it may affect your aging loved one. 

Mobility Limitations

Mobility problems, such as not being able to stand up easily or grip things firmly, are common in older adults, and these can lead to malnutrition issues. Seniors who have limited mobility may eat less because it’s difficult for them to walk to the kitchen, make food, or feed themselves. In these situations, it may be helpful to have a caregiver who can prepare meals, bring trays to your loved one, and assist with feeding if necessary.

Homecare services experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.

Cognitive Decline

As with limited mobility, cognitive decline can make it difficult for seniors to eat, so they may not get the right nutrients. Seniors who have some form of dementia or other type of cognitive decline may not even realize they’re hungry. Since cognitive decline makes multistep tasks challenging to carry out, seniors may find it difficult to fix even simple meals. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can lead to a reduction in nutrition intake by making it difficult to swallow. You may need to provide high-calorie shakes and other liquid foods to encourage your loved one to eat enough. 

If your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s and needs help managing daily tasks, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Edmonton Home Care Assistance provides reliable caregivers around the clock to help your loved one age in place safely and comfortably while living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Depression

One of the main symptoms of depression in seniors is sudden weight loss. Depression and malnutrition are linked because feelings of hopelessness and purposelessness generated by depression can keep seniors from feeling motivated to eat. Seniors with depression tend to feel fatigued and easily overwhelmed, so when they do eat, they’re more likely to pick junk food or prepackaged food that doesn’t provide enough proper nutrients. Managing depression can be very challenging. Treatment involves a combination of medication and therapy, and caregivers need to encourage seniors to eat more. 

Taking Multiple Medications

Seniors who take more than ten different medications per day have a higher risk of malnutrition. Taking a lot of drugs causes malnutrition through several mechanisms. Many medications cause nausea or loss of appetite, so seniors who experience these side effects are less likely to eat. Some medications can also cause drowsiness and memory issues that prevent seniors from remembering to eat. Managing this issue may require discussing alternative medications, dosages, or drug schedules with your loved one’s doctor. 

If you’re concerned your loved one isn’t getting proper nutrition, consider enlisting the help of a highly trained professional caregiver. In Edmonton, in-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. We will work with you to create a customized home care plan that’s suited for your loved one’s unique needs. Call the Home Care Assistance team at (780) 490-7337 today.

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