• Avoiding Malnutrition

  • by Lauren Russell

Tomorrow is that start of National Nutrition Month, so today, we are addressing a growing problem in America – malnutrition amongst seniors.

Malnutrition is the lack of nutritional requirements due to not eating enough food or eating nutrient-deprived foods. Poor nutrition is a serious problem because it can lead to serious, even life-threatening health conditions. According to Huffington Post, “Of the millions of older adults admitted to the hospital every year, at least one in three is malnourished upon admission.”

Some problems malnutrition may cause include risk of infection, weakness, more falls and broken bones, and a frail immune system.

Causes

There are many situations that may cause older adults to become malnourished. One of those is poor health. If they have memory issues, they may simply forget to eat. Depression or side effects from medication may cause a loss of appetite or loss of interesting in cooking and preparing meals. If they have trouble getting around the house or cannot leave their house, they may not be able to go to the store or walk to the kitchen.

Symptoms

There may be some warning signs that point to malnutrition. If the person is getting sick more often, has slow healing wounds, and muscle weakness, they may be suffering from malnutrition. Some other signs are loose fitting clothes, bruises on the skin, and weight loss.

How You Can Help Prevent It

You can help a loved one avoid malnutrition by noticing the signs. Not only will their symptoms tip you off, but there are other signs as well. They may have an empty fridge or one filled with out-of-date foods. Pick up on any red flags they may bring up in conversation. This includes complaining that they do not have any money to buy food, that they aren’t hungry, or that they have trouble swallowing or chewing. All of these could indicate a problem.

Whenever you visit the person, check their refrigerator and observe their eating habits. Bring over a nutritious meal to share with them or take them out to eat. Go grocery shopping for them or have groceries delivered to their home. You can also sign up for Meals on Wheels or some other similar service. Study up on nutritious foods and educate them yourself. We provide a ton of information on various nutritional foods in our Food for Thought Friday category. Always contact a doctor or other health professional if you think the person needs help or is seriously malnourished.

We are not medical professionals and this content should not be taken in place of the advice of a doctor. Always consult your doctor when it comes to your health. This article is for informational purposes only.