Owners' Blog

Is My Elderly Relative Malnourished?

By Hilary and Greg Eldridge

A growing problem in the United States among elderly adults is that of malnutrition. Senior citizens are increasingly found to be malnourished, meaning their health is in jeopardy. Friends, family members, and even the elderly adults themselves may not even recognize the signs and symptoms of senior malnutrition. However, it can leave lasting negative health effects on the body, especially in the elderly. Family members need to do what it takes to ensure their aging loved one is not suffering from malnutrition.

Can Seniors Really Become Malnourished?

Malnutrition is when a person doesn’t take in enough nutrients for their body to work properly. Missing nutrients affect different parts of the body. Common symptoms in elderly adults include a weak immune system, wounds that are slow to heal, memory problems, muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, poor digestion, anemia and weakened bones. Malnourished seniors make more doctor and hospital visits each year and they are more frequently sick and take longer to recover.

Elderly adults have a higher than average risk of malnourishment than almost any other age group. It can be confusing to family members that haven’t really thought about the factors that contribute to senior malnourishment. Malnourishment is not the same as being hungry. Many elderly adults have some food around, but often it is not nutritious or else they consume so little that their bodies can’t benefit.

Some of the factors that contribute to malnourishment include physical limitations that prevent grocery shopping and cooking, lack of money for fresh food, or insufficient interest in eating. It’s common for seniors to experience sensory impairment where they don’t taste or smell as well. Elderly adults can often have a diminished appetite, due to age or as a side effect of some medications. Still others may have trouble chewing or swallowing due to poor dental health or partial paralysis of the face or throat. Finally, some aging adults simply don’t know much about proper nutrition and prefer unhealthy processed food all the time.

Ways to Prevent Malnourishment in Elderly Adults

Family members can do a lot to ensure their aging loved ones are not setting themselves up for poor health when it comes to meals. One of the best ways to help out an elderly adult that struggles is to hire an elder care provider. These professionally trained aides come in and do household tasks that are a challenge for an elderly person. This can include grocery shopping and preparing meals. An elder care assistant can put together delicious and nutritious meals that appeal to the senior. The aide can also encourage health snacking such as smoothies or vegetables and dip. Finally, the elder care assistant can monitor how much the elderly adult is eating and report any concerns to family members.

When an elderly person is enjoying a nutritious diet, their entire body will be healthier. To reduce the risk of malnutrition in their aging relative, family members should seriously consider hiring a friendly and helpful elder care assistant to take on the tasks of grocery shopping and meal preparation.



If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Woodstock, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.