A concern that can often times be overlooked in older adults is unintentional weight loss. Doctors view with concern the loss of 10 pounds or 5% of your body weight in 6-12 months, if the loss is unintentional. Poor eating habits, change in behaviors, chronic illness, medication management or other health problems can lead to malnutrition or unintentional weight loss. This can be dangerous and unhealthy for seniors, especially, due to their age. They are at greater risk for falls or illnesses, and have a harder time recovering from each. It is imperative that their bodies continue to receive the proper nutrition so they can remain active and healthy.
This blog will share strategies to help recognize and prevent unintentional weight loss in seniors.
Why does weight loss matter?
Weight loss that is not intended may be a symptom of malnutrition, which occurs when the body is not receiving the proper vitamins and nutrients it needs to healthily function.
Other symptoms of malnutrition:
These can be difficult symptoms to notice, especially since they can emerge at a gradual pace and may seem harmless enough at the time. It’s important as the holidays approach to spend some time with your loved ones and have a conversation with them. Inquire about their health and eating habits, but also take some time to observe their behaviors.
Once you’ve identified the cause for concern, it is important to work with the senior to establish a healthy routine again. This may mean helping plan meals, getting creative with an otherwise bland diet to spice things up, adding vitamin supplements, or simply offering some encouragement. Let them know they are not alone and help build a support system around them.
How can we help seniors regain weight?
Unintentional weight loss can have serious consequences if not noticed and treated, especially in older adults. Studies have shown unintentional weight loss results in higher risks for illness, infection and depression.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional. They are a great resource and can help offer solutions to combat unintentional weight loss and malnutrition, and share ideas to help show your support with your loved one.
Let’s keep our seniors healthy this holiday season! Keep your eyes and ears open as family gathers together to celebrate.