Merriam-Webster defines malnutrition as “faulty nutrition due to inadequate or unbalanced intake of nutrients.” Per a 2014 issue of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, medical costs for health care related to malnutrition came in at $157 billion. Just over a third of that cost was due to malnutrition in adults over the age of 64.
Know Some of the Signs.
Could your dad be suffering from malnutrition? Some of the key signs are appetite changes, weight loss, irritability, muscle weakness, depression, and fatigue. Your dad doesn’t have to have all these signs. He may be overweight and still deal with malnutrition. Many seniors will eat more thinking a larger portion helps, but a balanced diet with all of the essential nutrients is key to proper nutrition. Other seniors skip meals to try to lose weight and that leads to malnutrition.
Reasons Your Dad May Be Malnourished.
- Make sure his teeth are okay. Some seniors reduce what they eat because of tooth or gum disease, ill-fitting dentures or bridges, or missing teeth. A trip to the dentist may help eliminate malnutrition caused by bad dental health.
- He may not feel like cooking a full meal. Lifting a heavy pan or cooking over a hot stove may be too challenging. As a result, he sticks to easy-to-prepare meals that he can microwave and that are high in fat and sodium. He might prefer ready-to-eat foods like yogurt, fresh fruit, and cheese slices. If he’s sticking to dairy products and little else, he’s not getting the proper nutrients.
- Medications or the act of aging may change the way certain foods taste. Maybe the foods you’re buying him simply do not taste the same and he’s too embarrassed to tell you. Mix things up and have him try different foods and then look at his plate to see what he finishes and what he doesn’t.
- Retirement income and rising health care costs may keep him from being able to afford the right foods. Talk to your local Agency on Aging to find out what programs are available to help your dad afford healthier food options.
What Else Can You Do?
Talk to his doctor. There are nutritional supplements and shakes that make sure your dad is getting the proper nutrients. These can be handy to have available when your dad simply won’t eat a full meal.
Arrange a consultation with a home care agency. Have a caregiver help cook nutritious meals for your dad and keep him company while he eats. A home care professional will also join your dad on walks to make sure he’s exercising each day.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Bayside, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions. Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961
Jennifer has specialized training in Alzheimer’s disease through the Long Island Alzheimer’s Association and the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation.She also volunteered her time with the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center of Long Island for 3 years by providing cognitive stimulation to an Alzheimer’s patient group.
Jennifer educates the community about elder care and speaks to caregiver support groups, senior centers, and at professional organizations.Topics include home safety, effective strategies for family caregiving, elder care planning, and awareness about elder abuse.
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