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Be on the look out for unintentional weight loss

grandmother_healthy_eating-saidaonlineA 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:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Poor memory
  • Weakened immune system
  • Anemia

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.


  • Ask about new medications: Some medicines may affect appetites or make food taste bland.
  • Consider their restricted diet: Various health problems may have led a senior to adopt a diet. Are they having any success or are they struggling? Are they motivated to prepare food within the new diet restrictions?
  • Inquire about finances: If they are struggling financially, groceries may have become less of a priority for seniors and fresh produce may have been cut due to low income.
  • Watch for changing behaviors: Memory loss, depression, or behaviors that don’t seem normal may be a sign of dementia or depression and could affect eating habits.

caregiver-and-elderly-300x213Once 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?

  • Regular exercise: This can help strengthen muscle and battle their tiredness. Find a nice park to walk in or a local gym with class focused on seniors.
  • Meal Plans: Smaller meals throughout the day (5-6) may be better, than three large meals. Plan a schedule for each meal and see what works.
  • Check out the food: Take inventory of the pantry and see what food is there. Make a list and go to the grocery store together and make sure they are picking up items that will help them establish a well-rounded diet.
  • Seek counseling: Bring your loved one to see a medical professional, counsellor or nutritionist. They may be able to help establish behavior changes and give advice on regaining the lost 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.

Angels Senior Home Solutions is a based-in-faith company that provides in-home healthcare and personal care services for seniors. Visit our website here or find us on Facebook!

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