Senior Malnourishment: A Common, But Often Undetected Problem

Elderly asian woman bored with foodRemember weekend dinners at Grandma and Grandpa’s, when the whole family came together around the table to share a hearty meal, conversations, and laughter? Regrettably, with many families now living at a distance from their older family members, along with so many pressing needs pulling us in numerous directions, it’s hard to keep on with this tradition – and it could be one of the many factors leading to the dramatic rise in senior malnutrition.

Around 25% of all senior citizens in the United States are malnourished, leading to critical health concerns. For some older adults who live alone, they just aren’t motivated to cook properly on their own. Others are experiencing grief, depression, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, poverty, medication side effects, and more.

Regardless of the underlying factors, individuals experiencing senior malnutrition face compromised immune systems, longer and more complicated hospital stays, readmissions, and earlier mortality. And detecting malnutrition is not as easy as observing weight loss in a senior; people who appear in good health or even overweight may also be fighting with malnourishment challenges.

One main aspect of detecting senior malnutrition and then dealing with it lies in the hands of the medical community. Seniors should be screened for nutrition issues by their primary care physician, and a dietary plan established. When hospitalized, hospital personnel should also check into any potential nutritional needs, and include their findings and a prescribed course of action in discharge paperwork to be discussed with care providers together with the senior’s doctor.

Loved ones also play a vital role in ensuring the nutritional needs of the senior loved ones are met, and in helping uncover the root cause if problems are revealed. For example, if financial concerns are preventing the older adult from keeping a healthy diet, she or he may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Currently, up to three out of five older adults who qualify for the program are not using its benefits.

It is crucial to pay attention to signs that your senior loved one may possibly not be staying with a healthier diet, and to go over any concerns with your loved one’s doctor. And call on Atlanta Home Care Partners, the experts for home care in Atlanta GA, for help in establishing better nutritional habits for your senior family member. We can plan and prepare balanced meals, pick up groceries and make certain there are balanced diet options within the fridge and pantry all of the time, in addition to providing friendly companionship that makes mealtime more pleasant.

Posted on: April 11th, 2018 by Cheryl Richard Mann
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