Malnutrition in the elderly population

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Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for overall health, regardless of your age. However, many older adults and elderly people are at risk of poor nutrition, which can stem from a combination of physical and psychological changes. Understanding some of the causes of malnutrition and recognizing the signs are key steps to finding help for you or a loved one.

Gina Ward, registered dietician from Davis Hospital and Medical Center, has unfortunately seen many of the signs of malnutrition in the elderly. They can end up not having the essential vitamins, minerals and proteins which very important for our senior loved ones.

Causes of malnutrition in the elderly population

– Health problems, including dementia, dental issues, chronic illnesses

– Dietary restrictions (Low sodium, low fat diets, or low sugar diets)

– Depression

– Reduced social contact

– Lack of mobility

– Gastrointestinal disorders

– Limited income

Signs of malnutrition

– Unexpected changes in weight

– Muscle weakness

– Fatigue

– Poor wound healing

– Increased illness or infection

– Easy bruising

– Feeling irritable or depressed

– Dental difficulties

It’s important to note that malnourished people can be both underweight and overweight.

What you can do about malnutrition

If you notice signs of malnutrition in a loved one, there are things you can do to help improve the situation. The best place to start is with his or her doctor.

– Address concerns with your loved one’s doctor

– Work with a registered dietitian

– If dental problems are an issue, encourage loved one to visit a dentist

– Make meals social events

– Help him or her meal plan, including between-meal snacks

– Encourage regular exercise

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