Here are some warning signs to look out for – and steps to take – when it comes to your loved ones not eating properly.
Eating a well-balanced diet is essential to health and well-being no matter what age you are, but for seniors, it’s especially important. That’s because our bodies don’t absorb nutrients very efficiently as we age, so it’s crucial that the foods we eat are more nutrient-dense.
The problem is, many seniors start eating less or simply resort to what’s convenient when it comes to their diet, which in many cases can lead to malnutrition. According to a study conducted by the Annals of Emergency Medicine, over 60% of seniors that check-into an emergency room in the US are malnourished or at risk for malnutrition!
There are many reasons why the diets of many seniors suffer, including:
- Trouble chewing
- Memory issues
- General apathy towards cooking
For family members caring for aging loved ones, it can be hard to know when you should be concerned and intervene. Here are 5 warning signs to look out for, followed by actions steps once you’ve identified the problem.
1. Weight loss
Problematic weight loss is defined as losing more than 5% of body weight in one month. Losing weight too quickly can lead to loss of muscle and body tissue, which can reduce strength and mobility.
2. Low energy
Simply put, eating food is what gives us energy. If we stop eating properly or don’t eat enough, our energy levels are going to plummet. When you’re around your loved ones, if you notice they seem excessively tired or have considerably cut back on their normal exercise routine because they’re “just not feeling up to it lately”, that’s a flag.
3. Medical test results
As much as possible, it’s important to be aware of your loved one’s cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels. If you notice significant changes or they’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease (ex: diabetes or heart disease), there’s a good chance their diet has played a role in their declining health.
4. Empty fridge and pantry
This is a telltale sign your loved one isn’t eating right. Either they’re eating out all the time, which is hardly ever a healthy choice, or they’re simply not eating which is even worse.
5. Freezer full of processed frozen meals
On the opposite end of the spectrum from having no food in the house, sometimes your loved ones will stock up on heavily salted, unhealthy processed meals at the grocery store….and that’s all they eat! Most frozen meals from the grocery store are loaded with preservatives and don’t comply with any specific dietary concerns your loved one has, which can be problematic and make their health suffer.
What you can do to help
Stock up at the grocery store
Take the initiative to ensure that their cupboards are fully stocked with nutritious food options. You can’t force them to eat, but you can certainly do your part to make sure there is food available for when they want or need to eat.
Prepare meals for them
If you’re able to commit the time and are familiar with their dietary restrictions, you can go the extra mile and prepare meals for your loved one. Some seniors are unwilling or unable to cook their own meals, so having someone do that part for them can make a world of difference.
Hire a meal service
Not everyone has the ability to prepare meals for their loved one on their own, and that’s okay. You have a lot going on in your life. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Hiring a meal delivery service like Chefs For Seniors to provide customized meals can give you peace of mind that your loved one’s nutritional needs are being met.
Check out these video testimonials from some of our clients: