A Caregiver’s Guide: Recognizing Inadequate Nutrition

By January 14, 2015Aging in Place

As we age, it’s imperative to receive proper nutrition. Older adults have a more difficult time staying healthy due to natural changes to the body. They must consumer moderated calories, yet still obtain the proper amount of nutrients to stay fit. If an aging loved one is not receiving the adequate amount of nutrients, be aware of the warning signs.

Frail Hair
Hair follicles are made up of mostly protein. Thus, if a senior is lacking in protein intake, their hair may become weak, brittle, or dry. It’s a good initial indicator of nutritional deficiency. Of course, some hair loss is a natural part of the aging process, but if you begin to notice that an elderly loved one is losing hair at a rapid pace, it might be time to check their diet. A good solution is to add more iron and protein to their diet! It will help limit hair loss and keep it healthy.

Another common symptom of iron deficiency is chronic fatigue. Unfortunately, fatigue is another very common side effect to any number of health problems as you age, so it’s best to get to your primary physician to take some simple blood tests to determine whether your aging loved one has an iron deficiency. If not taken care of, it can lead to anemia or other serious illnesses. A doctor will be able to prescribe the right supplements to get them feeling healthy and fit!

Dry Mouth
Specific deficiencies within a senior’s diet can lead to a dry mouth. This is another important indicator for a caregiver to recognize a senior is not getting the right amount of nutrients in their meals. If the corners of their mouth are cracked and dry, they might need some more B2. This vitamin can be found in dairy products, leafy vegetables, and almonds. Try placing these items in their next meal if you notice a dry mouth.

Loss of Appetite
Some older adults take medicines that numb their taste buds or even reduce their appetite. This is quite common as you age. However, is it also a side effect of being nutritionally depleted. It’s a nasty cycle that becomes harder and harder to break. Your best bet is to contact your senior loved one’s dietician if you notice them eating less and less. It could be from the medicine they take or it could be a more serious problem in that they’re not getting the required supplements to keep them fueled. Their dietician will be able to tell what’s the cause of their sudden lack of appetite.

All in all, if you ever have a question about your senior’s health, contact their doctor. They’ll be able to tell you why the health concern is happening and how to stop it. Sometimes it’s a simple fix like adding a specific food to their diet. Other times it might require a more difficult solution. You want what’s best for that older loved one in your life. It can start by simply monitoring the foods they’re eating.

Image Credit – http://nutritionsavvy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Elderly-cooking.jpg

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