Side effects of medications, lack of interest in food, limited income, changes in tastes, diet restrictions, dementia, depression, and lack of mobility are just a few of the reasons seniors are at risk for malnutrition. Luckily, a little intervention from family members can prevent seniors from becoming malnourished. If you’re caring for an elderly parent, here are a few signs of malnourishment to look for.
1. Weight Loss
If your loved one is not eating enough calories and nutrients, he or she may lose weight excessively. Weight loss is typically unnoticeable at first, but you may eventually notice your loved one’s face begins to sag or his or her clothes start to look baggy. Excessive loss of weight is fairly evident in seniors who are already thin.
Excessive weight loss can impact a senior’s health, wellbeing, and independence. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of Bethlehem home care. Our caregivers provide transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping.
2. Loss of Appetite
When seniors lose interest in food and don’t eat much, it may be cause for concern, as cancer and other serious conditions sometimes cause appetite loss that leads to malnourishment. If your parent refuses an offer for a favorite food, it may be a sign of malnutrition.
When seniors consume insufficient quantities of vitamins and minerals, they may become weak. If your loved one experiences weakness, he or she may fall easily, face difficulty standing, lack the energy to engage in favorite activities, or pass out.
Weakness can make it difficult for seniors to manage daily activities independently. Whether your elderly loved one needs part-time assistance with basic household chores or you need a break from your caregiving duties, the Bethlehem respite care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. All of our respite care services are backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts.
4. Tiredness and Irritability
If your loved one experiences frequent mood swings, it could be a sign of undernourishment. Your parent may be too tired to socialize or do normal daily tasks like brush his or her teeth or get the mail. He or she may also become irritable and snap at you over trivial matters.
5. Immune System Issues
While older people typically have weaker immune systems than their younger counterparts, malnutrition can magnify these issues. Your loved one’s body may take a long time to get over the flu or heal cuts, bruises, and other wounds.
While all of these signs and symptoms may signal malnutrition, they could also be indicative of other health conditions. Those health issues may be the reason your loved one is avoiding food in the first place. The best thing to do is to see a doctor to get to the root of the issue. A few lifestyle changes to stave off malnutrition include:
- Taking your loved one grocery shopping and checking in regularly to ensure there is plenty of food in the house
- Inviting your loved one to eat meals with you and other family members and friends
- Making sure there are plenty of nutritious snacks in the house, such as fruit, nuts, nut butters, and yogurt
- Looking into nutritional supplements, such as shakes that can replace a meal or snack
- Teaching your loved one how to use spices, fruit juices, herbs, and other ingredients to make bland food taste better
By receiving professional in-home care, older adults can prevent malnourishment and maintain a high quality of life. In Bethlehem, senior care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn about our premier in-home care plans and how they can benefit your aging parent, call us at 484-350-3874 today.