Malnutrition today is one of the major dietary concerns surrounding not just children but adults as well. For most senior citizens, malnutrition may remain undiagnosed for a long time. When our body does not get its required amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to maintain optimal health for a long time, it can lead to other health problems and issues. While we tend to lose muscle mass and strength naturally as we age, lack of proper nutrition can worsen this loss of muscle strength. This can result in loss of mobility and flexibility, making it difficult for the elderly to do the daily tasks of life and reducing their quality of life significantly. It can also increase their risk of falling. 
Additionally, a lack of nutrients can impair the immune system, reducing the body’s ability to fight infections and recover. Nutrition also plays a pivotal role in mental health. It can magnify symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues amongst the elderly. 
The incidence of malnutrition amongst the elderly is increasing day by day. There are various factors contributing to this condition such as medication side effects, difficulty in swallowing or chewing, poor digestion, change in smell or taste, lack of social settings, etc. As signs and symptoms of malnutrition can often go unnoticed, it is essential to offer elder care or home care nursing, and keep an eye out for them in order to maintain optimal health in the elderly. Let us have a look at 7 signs that are indicative of malnutrition in the elderly.

 

  1. Reduced Appetite

    : A reduced appetite occurs when your desire to eat has reduced. It is also called loss of appetite or poor appetite. It is one of the common symptoms of malnutrition. Reduced appetite can become a serious problem when left untreated. Hence, it is very important to offer elder care and treat it. It is vital to get an examination from a doctor and have them access your nutritional intake and the extent of your decreased appetite. There are various ways and lifestyle changes that can help in improving your appetite such as eating frequent small meals, staying active by going for walks, or doing light exercises. It is a good idea to avail home care nursing while recovering.
     
  2. Weight Loss

    : Malnutrition can result in unplanned or unintended weight loss. This is the most common and notable sign and symptom of malnutrition in the elderly. The elderly who are not dieting but have lost more than 10% of their body weight in the course of the three months could be malnourished. A healthy Body Mass Index or BMI for adults lies between 18.5 and 24.9. Those with BMI between 17 and 18.5 could be considered mildly malnourished. Those with BMI between 16 and 17 could be considered moderately malnourished and those with BMI less than 16 could be considered severely malnourished. One must see a doctor, and avail elder care and home care nursing in order to recover. Home care nursing helps with day to night guidance where elders aren’t just watched but also supported with their diets and workouts.
     
  3. Fatigue

    : Another notable symptom of lack of nutrition is fatigue. Lack of energy is a symptom frequently complained about by the elderly. It can lead to the inability to continue to function at an optimal level and reduce the quality of life. When the intake of dietary nutrients and energy is inadequate to meet the demands of the body, our body fat and muscles are catabolized to provide energy. This can lead to overt symptoms of tiredness and fatigue. Lack of adequate nutrition has been closely associated with poor physical performance with the resultant onset of fatigue. If you or your loved ones are experiencing tiredness or fatigue, you must avail elder care and get an examination done by a doctor and take measures to cure it. With home care nursing elders can be monitored with their fatigue levels and indulge in daily activities and wellness resolutions that ease fatigue.
     
  4. Changes in Mood<

    : While most people understand the connection between nutrition and physical illnesses and ailments, not many people know that nutrition and mental health is also connected. Nutrition can play a key role in changes in mood and the onset, severity, and duration of mental health diseases and conditions such as anxiety and depression. Poor appetite, skipping meals, and craving for sweets or other unhealthy foods are noticeable food patterns in many mental health issues. Inadequate intake of nutritious food can result in malnutrition and resultant changes in mood. Home nurse ensures a healthy diet and right nutrition for the elders that goes on a long way toward supporting mental as well as physical health for them.
     
  5. Poor Concentration

    : Our diet affects our brain’s functioning. The abundance or lack of certain nutrients can affect our cognitive function. If you are experiencing symptoms like memory issues, poor concentration, lack of mental clarity, and difficulty focusing, chances are you are suffering from inadequate nutrition or malnutrition. One of the most unexpected underlying causes of brain fog is a poor diet. To keep our brains healthy and perform optimally, it is important to eat a healthy diet with the right amount of nutrients regularly. Certain nutrients such as vitamin B12 help in ensuring healthy blood and nerve function. Low levels of these particular vitamins and minerals can make you feel fuzzy and result in fatigue. Home attendant for the elderly ensures that elders can address their health concerns better with doctor consultation at the right time, and a better diet that translates into an improvement of brain function.
     
  6. Feeling cold

    : Feeling cold or abnormal sensitivity to a chilly environment can be indicative of your nutrition levels. Various factors may contribute to the sensation of constantly feeling cold. As we age our metabolism slows down and our bodies produce less heat. However, other contributing factors to feeling chills or cold include not eating enough good fats, not getting enough sleep, dehydration, low intake of iron, deficiency of vitamin B12, etc. If you feel that you or your loved one is feeling abnormally cold, it is a good idea to see a doctor and get a check-up done. Home care nursing can help elders address early symptoms of health concerns and get doctor consultations at the right time.
     
  7. Increased Recovery Time

    : Our body fuels its recovery process through food and nutrition. A lack of vital nutrients and minerals can cause our wounds to take longer to heal. It can impair our immune function and lead to longer infection periods. Certain deficiencies also result in problems such as ulcers, inflammation, weak and brittle hair, etc. Malnutrition can also lead to indigestion and chronic diarrhea, hindering the absorption of nutrients in the body. Home care nursing can ensure timely intake of proper diet so elders can recover from their health concerns on time.
     
Other signs and symptoms of malnutrition in the elderly include weakness, irritability, dry skin and hair, constipation, etc. If you feel like you or an elderly around you has been showing any symptoms of malnutrition, it is a good idea to consult a health practitioner for a check-up and provide elderly care. Eating a healthy diet, staying active and hydrated, practicing sleep hygiene, and taking care of your mental health can help a great deal in avoiding or recovering from malnutrition and leading a happy and healthy life for the elderly.
Elcare is an elderly care service provider that is dedicated to improving the physical and mental wellness of elders via various services including home nursing services and private duty nursing. For information about our Health & Wellness Advisory and other services, call us on 08045914567.