Throughout the United States, the needs of the aging population are becoming more demanding than ever. According to the Center for Disease Control, the current population of seniors is expected to double to approximately 72 million people by 2030.
Malnutrition is a threat
One of the greatest threats to the health and safety of this growing class of aging adults is the need for proper nutritional awareness. Seniors frequently fall into poor eating habits that do not deliver the necessary nutritional value and energy to simply get them through the day.
The good news is that simple nutritional deficiencies are easily reversible with the right dietary adjustments. If a medical condition is the primary cause of malnutrition, it must be treated in order guarantee future dietary control.
What is Malnutrition?
Malnutrition is an imbalance of nutrients, either by means of an excessive intake of some or deficits of others. However, it can be characterized by an imbalance of just a single nutrient. Not consuming enough food can also lead to outright starvation, another form of malnutrition.
As we age, our bodies can encounter difficulties absorbing the necessary nutrients from the foods we eat. Diagnosing and treating such digestive complications can be a difficult process of trial and error. Seniors also deal with a variety of mental health obstacles as they age. Alzheimer’s and dementia can increase forgetfulness and prevent seniors from being able to discern the proper frequency and value of eating quality food.
While malnutrition can be caused by a combination of physical and mental health complications typical of the aging process, there are also environmental factors that increase risks. Poverty, isolation and loneliness can all give way to poor eating habits that result in malnutrition.
Medline Plus describes the primary symptoms of malnutrition as fatigue, dizziness, and weight loss. However, there is also a chance a malnourished individual may have no visible symptoms.
If you are unsure about the emergence of new symptoms and possibility of malnutrition, see your primary care doctor. Blood work and nutritional assessments can be done in order to provide a closer look.
- Medline Plus – Malnutrition
- S. National Library of Medicine – Malnutrition
- Center for Disease Control – The State of Aging Health in America
Understanding the effects of malnutrition to your loved one creates awareness. Utilizing A Place at Home’s senior focused in-home care services can reduce the risk of malnutrition by taking action on warning signs and keeping seniors consistent with their diet.