Malnutrition is more prevalent among the over-65 age group than one would think. The American Academy of Family Physicians reported 3.7 million elderly individuals who were diagnosed with malnutrition in 2012.
Malnutrition is not just about eating too little food; it is also about eating the right foods—getting the necessary vitamins, minerals, and food groups to maintain health. In a Kentucky nursing home, then, shouldn’t the medical staff be on top of the situation?
It’s not that simple.
What Causes Malnutrition?
As with many health problems, malnutrition generally develops from a combination of factors. Most of the following reasons were cited by the Mayo Clinic and appear on APlaceforMom.com:
- Health problems may lead to a decreased appetite
- Deteriorating dental health may cause eating to be painful
- Medications and other treatments, such as radiation therapy, may cause nausea or loss of appetite
- Dietary restrictions may prevent individuals from getting proper nutrients and may be less than palatable
- Depression and other psychological disorders may cause loss of appetite, as well as loss of interest in food
- Financial restrictions or limited mobility may affect an elderly person’s ability to obtain the food needed
How Can Loved Ones Monitor Nutrition for the Elderly?
Malnutrition may not be obvious in the elderly, so it is important for the people who are close to them to be proactive. Here is a mnemonic by Comfort Keepers from the A Place for Mom website:
- Watch for physical problems, such as bruising, weight loss, and dental problems.
- Ask the elderly person about eating habits and preferences—have they changed?
- Talk to a doctor about your loved one’s nutritional needs, as well as any complaints about physical or dental problems that could have an effect on eating.
- Check with a pharmacist about any potential interactions between medications that the elderly person is taking or between the medications and food.
- Have visits during mealtimes so that you can observe your loved one’s eating habits.
How Can Malnutrition Be Prevented in Seniors?
Here are five suggestions from the Mayo Clinic for ways caregivers can prevent malnutrition in the elderly:
- Provide a nutritious, appealing diet. Use spices and herbs to enhance flavor.
- Include snacks to supplement nutrition between meals.
- If you cannot be with the senior during meals, encourage him or her to eat with friends or in a group setting.
- Make sure that the individual gets regular exercise—in keeping with his or her physical ability—to stimulate the appetite and enhance health.
- If you suspect that the cost of food is an issue, make suggestions on ways to save money. Perhaps the elderly person can share food expenses with a friend or family member. Help locate restaurants that give discounts to senior citizens.
Has Your Loved One Been Injured In A Nursing Home?
If you believe your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse you need to speak with an experienced Kentucky nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.