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6 Ways Poor Nutrition Affects Older Adults

By Jennifer Thompson, 9:00 am on

Even though obesity and overeating are both common concerns among the elderly, malnutrition can be just as dangerous. Poor nutrition can result in secondary health complications, including organ failure, psychological issues, insomnia, joint pain, and tooth loss. Caregivers should always keep an eye out for some of the most common symptoms of malnutrition and be ready to help their senior loved ones make dietary changes.

1. Bad Oral Health

One of the reasons regular dental appointments are so important for seniors is because dentists can catch many health conditions in their earliest stages. Ailments such as periodontal disease, halitosis, and tooth decay can be caused by a variety of different medical issues, including malnutrition. Seniors who have chronic oral health conditions often benefit from meal replacement shakes that aren’t as difficult to swallow. 

Make sure your senior loved one eats healthy foods each day by hiring a professional caregiver to cook nutritious meals. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Nashville, Tennessee, home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

2. Fatigue and Lethargy

Caregivers should be wary of chronic or unexplained fatigue. These are both common symptoms of anemia, and this deficiency can be quite dangerous when left untreated. Moderate anemia can typically be reversed by adding more iron-rich foods to the diet or taking a daily iron supplement. Many anemic seniors are also told to eat more vitamin C or take a vitamin C supplement so they can absorb iron more efficiently. 

3. Mood Swings and Emotional Disorders

Researchers now know diet has a major impact on emotions and psychological wellbeing. If your loved one isn’t getting certain nutrients, his or her body could have a difficult time producing vital hormones and chemicals. Many foods and ingredients trigger the production of dopamine and serotonin, including oily fish, oats, beans, and fresh berries. 

4. Deteriorating Eyesight

An ongoing nutritional deficiency almost always impacts a senior’s eyesight. Your loved one might begin to experience issues such as difficulty seeing at night, blurred vision, and headaches when out in the sun. As soon as your loved one complains of issues with his or her eyesight, immediately contact an optometrist to schedule an appointment. In addition to malnutrition, these problems can also be caused by age-related macular degeneration and certain forms of cancer. 

Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Nashville seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

5. Digestion Disorders

Even if your loved one is taking supplements and eating nutrient-dense foods, he or she might still become malnourished. Different factors make it difficult for the body to process foods, including certain medications, IBS, dehydration, and stomach cancer. Some seniors must experiment with different diets until they find dishes that are nutritious and easy to digest. Others must avoid potential trigger foods like spicy dishes, dairy, nuts, and fatty foods. 

6. Brittle or Damaged Hair

Hair loss is a natural part of aging, but a senior’s hair shouldn’t suddenly become brittle or fall out. When an individual is malnourished, the nutrients he or she consumes may be redirected to the lungs, brain, and other organs. Luckily, a simple blood test can reveal deficiencies that need to be addressed. Seniors who have damaged hair should also speak with a certified dermatologist about their treatment options.

If your loved one needs encouragement to eat healthier foods or focus on other lifestyle factors, consider hiring a professional caregiver. In Nashville, Tennessee, home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. If your aging loved one wants to enjoy a high quality of life in the comfort of home, call us at (615) 656-4999.