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The Importance of Vitamin B12 for Aging Adults

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It’s important for older adults to get the right vitamins and minerals through food and supplements since a deficiency could have a major impact on their health and independence. Many adults over the age of 50 are deficient in vitamin B12. Here are few things you need to know about the importance of vitamin B12 in the elderly.

Prevents Anemia

Vitamin B12 is important for creating red blood cells. Seniors with a B12 deficiency may also be anemic, which means they don’t produce enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, brittle nails and hair, weakness, dizziness, pale or jaundiced skin, and lightheaded feelings. 

Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Bethlehem elder care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help.

Boosts Cognitive Health

A lack of B12 accelerates cognitive decline, and long-term B12 deficiency can lead to dementia. Other symptoms include irritability, loss of memory, confusion, poor judgement, and decreasing motor skills. Cognitive decline occurs because a B12 deficiency impacts the nerves in the brain and leads to smaller brain volume over time.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Bethlehem seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Enhances Nerve Function

Vitamin B12 deficiency can affect the entire nervous system by damaging nerves throughout the body, which can lead to several serious complications, including deterioration of the spinal cord. A lack of B12 can cause peripheral neuropathy or weakness, pain, and feelings of numbness in the feet and hands. Seniors with peripheral neuropathy often face difficulty walking, balancing, and remaining mobile.

Diagnosing a B12 Deficiency

If you suspect your loved one has a B12 deficiency, it’s important to get to a doctor for testing as soon as possible. Some symptoms can be reversed if caught in time. It’s probably a good idea for older adults to undergo testing as part of a regular physical health routine. The diagnosis is made through a preliminary blood test, and additional tests may be required to determine why the person lacks the vitamin. Age, alcohol intake, prescription medications, medical conditions, previous surgical procedures, and other factors can make a B12 deficiency more likely.

Treating a B12 Deficiency

If your loved one is deficient in B12, his or her doctor may prescribe vitamins or supplements to get the levels up. Your parent can also eat more foods that contain the vitamin, like fish, eggs, milk, beef, chicken, turkey, and fortified cereals. However, some older adults still don’t absorb enough of the vitamin. In such a case, the doctor may do more testing to determine why your loved one’s body isn’t absorbing vitamin B12 and what can be done to address this issue.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is just one of the many issues older adults are susceptible to. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior care. Bethlehem families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your aging parent, give us a call at 484-350-3874 today.