Though it might seem strange that such a problem could exist in a developed country, a disturbing amount of seniors in America suffer from malnutrition. In fact, up to 60% of seniors seen in hospitals suffer from some form of malnourishment. If you want to maintain your health and independence throughout your senior years, nutrition and hydration are the keys to doing so. How can you protect yourself and your aging loved ones from malnutrition and dehydration?
Across all social, economic and cultural boundaries, the elderly are much more likely to be undernourished than other age groups. Behind this phenomenon are several interesting – and preventable – factors.
Seemingly, nutrition can be broken down to a simple decision-making process: when you’re hungry, you eat, and when you’re thirsty, you drink. One factor that we sometimes overlook, however, is that meals are often a social experience. When some seniors find themselves living alone (perhaps for the first time in decades), the warm, familiar dynamic behind their mealtimes changes dramatically. When older adults begin to enjoy their meals less than before, their eating habits may change for the worse.
Solution: Make mealtimes an event to look forward to. Eating with family and friends, enrolling in cooking classes, or finding specific meals that are especially enjoyable can keep older adults from slipping into unhealthy eating habits.
Though malnutrition and dehydration are not natural effects of aging, they are exacerbated by the consequences of age. Many older ones, for example, find that their tastes change over time. Specifically, many report that their taste buds are not as sensitive as they once were, making their meals seem bland and uninteresting.
Solution: Aside from adopting a meal plan with more “zing,” the primary goal should be finding (and reversing) the cause of the altered sense of taste. Since medications, injuries, sinus infections and other factors can influence taste, talk to your doctor to find a practical solution.
Simply remembering to eat and drink regularly is too much for some seniors. Those with dementia or other mental changes may find it hard to remember their mealtimes, and some may even struggle to associate physical cues, such as hunger and thirst, with the need to eat.
Solution: Though some seniors may be able to get by with regular reminders, such as programmable alarms or a video call from a family member, many will need supervision if they are going to avoid malnutrition and dehydration. With personal assistance from a family member or caregiver, you can feel confident that your loved ones will meet their nutritional needs.
At Fedelta Home Care, we put your loved one’s needs above all else. Our expert caregivers can help your family craft healthy meal plans, offer guidance and training, and provide excellent, personalized care to those in need. To learn more about our comprehensive and cost-effective home care services, contact us today.