Senior Malnutrition Is Surprisingly Common. Learn How to Detect and Prevent It Here.
Remember getting together for Sunday meals at Grandma’s house, when everyone gathered around the table for a home-cooked meal, conversations, and laughter? Unfortunately, with so many families now living at a distance from their elderly loved ones, and with so many varying needs pulling us in multiple directions, it’s hard to maintain this tradition – and it may be just one of the factors contributing to a recent dramatic increase in senior malnutrition.
In fact, as many as 25% of all adults over age 65 in the U.S. are malnourished, triggering critical health concerns. For some seniors who live alone, they simply aren’t inclined to want to prepare nutritious meals for themselves. Others are undergoing feelings of grief, depression, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, poverty, medication side effects, and many other influencers of poor dietary habits.
Whatever the reason, older adults who are malnourished are at risk for compromised immune systems, longer and more complicated hospitalizations and readmissions, and even earlier mortality. And detecting senior malnutrition isn’t as easy as observing weight loss, either; those who seem to be at a healthy weight or even overweight can also be struggling with malnourishment issues.
One key factor in detecting senior malnutrition and addressing it is in the hands of the medical community. Older adults need to be evaluated for nutritional issues by their primary care doctor, and to have a dietary plan recommended and implemented. When hospitalized, medical staff should also screen for potential nutritional deficiencies, and include their findings and a prescribed course of action in discharge paperwork to be reviewed with both caregivers and the older adult’s doctor.
Family members also can help ensure the nutritional needs of their senior loved ones are met, and help uncover the underlying cause if problems are found. For example, if financial difficulties are keeping the senior from sticking to a healthy diet, he/she may qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Currently, as many as three out of every five seniors who quality for the program are not taking advantage of its benefits.
Be sure to pay attention to red flags that your older loved one may not be adhering to a healthy diet, and to discuss any concerns with his or her physician. And, call on Hired Hands Homecare, the Sonoma home care experts, for help in establishing better dietary habits for your loved one. We can plan and prepare healthy and delicious meals, pick up groceries and make sure there are plenty of nutritious food options available at all times, and offer friendly companionship that makes mealtime more pleasant. Contact us online or at (866) 940-4343 to learn more and to find out if our services are available in your area.