5 Common Risk Factors for Malnutrition in the Elderly

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Physical, psychological, economic, and social issues put older adults at risk of chronic malnutrition. A lack of proper nutrition can weaken the immune system, lead to poor wound healing, and cause a loss of muscle mass and strength that can increase the risk of falls and fractures. The following are some of the most common issues that could put your senior loved one at risk of malnutrition.

1. Sensory Impairment

Health conditions, medications, and age can affect the sense of taste and smell. Many seniors are also on restricted diets, which can make the food taste bland. Use fresh herbs, citrus juices, and aromatic spices like curry to give food extra flavor and stimulate the appetite.

If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Folsom home care company you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.

2. Limited Mobility

Appetite tends to decrease when a senior is sedentary. Staying physically active can help stimulate your loved one’s appetite and strengthen muscles and bones. If your loved one has limited mobility that makes it difficult to prepare meals, consider hiring a home caregiver to help with meal preparation. You can also spend an afternoon helping your loved one prepare meal kits that he or she can simply pull out of the refrigerator or freezer and put into the oven or slow cooker.

3. Depression and Isolation

A lack of social contact can cause an older adult to lose interest in eating. If possible, encourage your loved one to visit the local senior center. Not only do senior centers offer opportunities for socialization, but most of them also offer free or low-cost meals on a daily basis. Make it a point to share meals with your loved one at home as often as possible instead of waiting for holidays or special occasions.

For families living in Folsom, CA, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

4. Limited Income

Many seniors cut back on food so they can afford medications or other expenses. You can help your loved one save up on grocery shopping by planning meals that minimize waste. You can also work with your loved one to control cost by scouring papers and circulars for sales and coupons and splitting the cost of bulk items.

5. Cognitive Impairment

Seniors with dementia or another type of cognitive impairment often have difficulty focusing long enough to eat a full meal, and they may not recognize when they are hungry. Turn off the TV and other distractions during mealtimes so your loved one can focus on the task of eating. It is also important to allow plenty of time and to keep things as low-key as possible. Seniors with dementia often do better when offered small snacks and finger foods throughout the day instead of big meals. The foods offered should be as nutrient-dense as possible such as fresh fruit, nut butters, eggs, and cheese.

Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Folsom live-in home care experts at Home Care Assistance are available 24/7 to make sure your loved one has the care he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable while aging in place. If you’re looking for high-quality in-home care for your elderly loved one, call us at 916.226.3737 today.