a nurse serving an older person a nutritious meal

If you are providing daily or occasional senior care for a parent or grandparent, then it is important to understand the signs of malnutrition in older adults. It isn’t always easy to see the subtle symptoms of malnourishment in senior citizens because of the similarities to the normal signs of aging. However, it is important to know the differences so that you can make sure that an older adult is eating a healthy diet or taking dietary supplements to get the nutrients required to remain mentally active and physically energetic.

What Is Malnutrition?

The condition of malnourishment is the result of not consuming enough nutritious foods such as:

  • Vegetables – dark leafy greens, potatoes or corn
  • Fruit – apples, oranges or pears
  • Lean proteins – fish or beef

An older adult might consume adequate calories, but they may eat poor-quality foods such as candy or baked goods. Alternatively, malnourishment is often the result of not eating enough food on a daily basis.

What Problems Does Malnutrition Cause?

When a senior citizen is malnourished, it can affect their mental and physical well-being, leading to additional health problems. Some of the conditions caused by poor nutrition include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Poor bone density
  • Anemia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Reduced immunity levels
  • Digestive problems
  • Anxiety
  • Balancing issues

What Causes Malnutrition In Older Adults?

There are several reasons why a senior citizen might become malnourished, including:

  • Inability to shop for foods at a supermarket
  • Not having enough money for nutritious foods
  • Physically unable to chop vegetables or slice meat
  • Poor dental health that affects the teeth and gums
  • Difficulties with swallowing food
  • Not having a stove, refrigerator or microwave oven
  • Vision problems that make it impossible to cook
  • Unable to taste certain flavors
  • Too depressed to prepare meals and snacks
  • Malabsorption of the nutrients in foods
What Are the Signs of Being Malnourished and How To Notice It?

It is vital to know the difference between malnourishment and the normal signs of aging in a loved one. Some older adults will lose weight while they are aging while others will gain weight. An older adult can be mildly malnourished despite being overweight because they might only consume pastries, frozen meals or potato chips. If a senior citizen is losing weight, then it is possible that it is due to another health condition such as cancer. However, a physician can perform a medical examination that includes taking blood samples to determine if an older adult is losing weight due to a serious illness or because she is not consuming the right types of nutrients.

What Do I Do If I’m Caring For a Loved One Who Is Malnourished?

If you are caring for a loved one who is malnourished, then you can help the individual by taking him to the supermarket to buy nutritious foods. After arriving home, make sure that the fresh foods are stored properly to prevent spoilage. When an older adult is unable to slice or chop foods, you can perform these tasks on your own. To keep these foods fresh, you should put the items in zipped plastic bags or easy to open containers. You may need to help a senior citizen consume her food by sitting next to them while they are eating.

Contact Watermark of Gulf Breeze Today

To learn more about proper senior health practices, contact Watermark of Gulf Breeze located in Gulf Breeze, Fl. today. Our trained employees can help you recognize the signs of malnourishment in an older adult.