One out of ten older adults does not eat enough. Three out of ten eat too much. Both of these are forms of malnutrition. Here are six things you may not realize about malnutrition in seniors, and how elder care can help.
Sixteen Percent of Adults Aged 65 or Older Are at Risk
Around 16% of adults aged 65 or older are at risk of malnutrition. It’s more common than you might think, and it can be hard to identify because obesity can be caused by malnutrition. Most people think of malnutrition as someone who is underweight.
Malnutrition May Be Hard to Identify
If someone is losing weight, malnutrition is a little easier to spot than it is in someone who eats too much. If your dad is overweight or at his normal weight but eating too much, the signs of malnutrition include dry skin and hair, bruises, fatigue, and slow wound healing.
Eight Factors That Increase the Risk of Malnutrition
Eight factors increase the risk of malnutrition. They include:
- Lack of knowledge regarding a healthy diet
- Dietary restrictions due to illnesses or allergies
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty tasting or smelling foods
- Lack of financial resources
- Lives alone
- Cannot read nutritional labels at the store
In addition to those factors, some situations increase the risk of malnutrition, including depression, chronic pain, dementia, or medication side effects. If any of these fit your dad’s situation, talk to his doctor for advice.
Older Adults Often Don’t Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are two areas where older adults often do not get enough. As they help with bone strength, they’re essential. Too little of them increases the risk of osteoporosis and brittle bones.
A Visit to the Dentist Can Help
In some cases, ill-fitting dentures or tooth pain can cause malnutrition. If your dad cannot chew his food, he’s not going to eat some of the best foods for his needs, such as raw vegetables and fruit. A trip to the dentist can help address these issues.
Home-Cooked Meals Are Important
Your dad’s nutritional needs are often better met with home-cooked meals that focus on his dietary requirements. Many doctors recommend the Mediterranean Diet due to its focus on fish, fresh vegetables, seeds/nuts, and healthy fats.
Does your dad like to spend time outside? A garden may be the inspiration he needs to start eating healthy. He can grow fresh fruits and vegetables, which saves money and provides many of the nutrients he needs the most.
If you worry about your dad not eating enough or eating a healthy diet, arrange elder care services. Caregivers can help him plan healthy weekly menus that meet his needs. He’ll have someone to help him shop and cook meals for him. An elder care specialist is happy to go over prices and help you get started.
Fresh Perspective Home Care is a trusted non-medical senior home care provider in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Richland, Vicksburg, Schoolcraft, Three Rivers, Gull Lake, Yorkville and Otsego, Michigan.