There are several elements that play a role in senior health, and nutrition is at or near the top of any such list. A healthy diet and related lifestyle will lead to several health-related benefits for seniors, but on the flip side, poor nutritional habits leading to malnutrition will often create significant health risks for those in older age ranges.
At Avamere at Mountain Ridge, our assisted living community staff are proud to help our guests with a wide variety of daily care areas, including maintaining nutrition and a healthy diet – both overall and in areas specific to each of our individual guests’ needs. Senior malnutrition is unfortunately a somewhat common issue for older adults, but we will not allow this to become a concern for any of our residents. This two-part blog series will go over why malnutrition is a risk for seniors, how it’s caused, and what both seniors themselves and their caregivers can do to help prevent malnutrition risks from coming up.
Health Issues Due to Malnutrition
Malnutrition in seniors has the potential to lead to several negative health outcomes, including each of the following:
- Weakening of the immune system, which increases infection risk and several other bodily risks
- Weakness of muscles and decreasing bone mass, both of which commonly lead to increased falling and fracture risks
- Improper wound healing, including risk of infection
- Higher risk of hospitalization or death due to both the above issues or several others
Causes of Senior Malnutrition
While senior malnutrition may be simple in some cases, sometimes due to a simple lack of enough calorie intake, it’s often more complex. There are several factors that may play a role in causing it, including:
- Illness: Various inflammation or illnesses can change senior appetites and also impact the way the aging body processes nutrients.
- Aging changes: As we age, many of us develop a changing or declining appetite or varying dietary habits. In addition, for some, aging leads to trouble with chewing, swallowing, dental health or some other area that makes it harder to eat.
- Memory: Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may cause some seniors to simply forget to eat or buy groceries.
- Medications: Some of the medications seniors take will have an impact on the appetite.
- Income or food access: Seniors with limited income or limited mobility may not be able to access the right kinds of food they need.
- Diet: Some seniors are on a diet meant to manage a medical issue, but this diet could cause problems of its own.
- Depression: Whether due to loneliness, grief, health issues or a variety of other potential causes, some seniors deal with depression, anxiety or a loss of interest in cooking and eating.
- Alcoholism: An issue at all ages, alcoholism may interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients, plus tends to lead to poor decision-making and eating habits.
For more on senior malnutrition and how to prevent it, or to learn about any of our assisted living, memory care or other senior living communities, speak to the staff with Avamere at Mountain Ridge today.