Top 5 Risk Factors for Senior Malnutrition

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Malnutrition occurs when seniors aren’t getting the nutrients they need, so it can happen even if they’re technically eating enough calories each day. Being malnourished makes it more likely for seniors to develop a host of other health issues, so it’s important for caregivers to take steps to address it. Here’s what you need to know about the main risk factors associated with malnutrition among seniors. 


1. Polypharmacy

Polypharmacy is defined as taking ten or more drugs per day. When seniors are prescribed multiple medications, the combined drugs often result in a loss of appetite, nausea, and difficulty remembering when they’ve recently eaten. If you’re worried, talk to your senior loved one’s doctor about medical alternatives or changing the time your loved one takes the medications to reduce these side effects. 

Consider hiring a caregiver if your loved one needs help with medication reminders or transportation to visit the doctor’s office. Home care service providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


2. Limited Mobility

Extensive research indicates that a host of mobility issues, including a decrease in hand grip strength, difficulty walking on stairs, and challenges with standing or sitting, are associated with malnutrition. These issues cause malnutrition because seniors eat less when it’s difficult to acquire food. Seniors who have limited mobility may need assistive devices, like a spoon that wraps around the hand, to make eating a little easier. 


3. Depression

When seniors become depressed, they may stop eating because they feel like there’s no purpose to it. Even seniors with depression who do get enough to eat often rely on prepackaged snacks and other unhealthy foods because the amount of effort required to cook or eat healthier meals is too much for them to handle. 

This risk factor is particularly high in seniors who live in assisted living facilities and report having a lack of interest in life. Because depression can greatly impair physical health, it’s essential to look out for warning signs of depression and encourage your loved one to seek treatment. 


4. Parkinson’s Disease

Roughly 60 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have an increased risk of malnutrition, making it one of the few health disorders directly associated with poor nutrition. It occurs because Parkinson’s causes nausea, limited mobility, and a diminished sense of taste, all of which can reduce the desire to eat, while tremors also result in more calories being burned throughout the day. Seniors can work with occupational therapists to regain eating abilities, and serving foods with appealing textures and strong flavors may also help. 

Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Livingston seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.


5. Cognitive Decline

Any sort of cognitive decline, such as that caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, can result in malnutrition because seniors forget to eat or have difficulty managing the multistep tasks necessary to make and consume meals. Seniors with cognitive decline need help from people who can prepare calorie-rich food and guide them through the eating process. 

Professional caregivers can help seniors prevent malnutrition by assisting with tasks such as meal prep and grocery shopping. When considering home care, Livingston families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Assisting Hands Home Care. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call us today.