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How Caregivers Can Reduce Malnutrition In The Elderly

Oct 3, 2017 | Resources for Families

For the elderly, there can be many contributing factors as to why they may become malnourished or are at risk for malnutrition. In fact, more than half of all elderly patients that visit the ER will be assessed for malnutrition. This is a very common problem for our aging population whether they are cognitively intact or not. So what’s going on? Caregivers can reduce malnutrition in the elderly by doing a few things that will help their loved ones or those in their care get the proper nutrition they need.

You don’t need to be a nutritionist or even hire one to make sure that mom or dad are getting what they need for daily nutrients. A few preventative things will ensure that your elderly loved one is on the road for success when it comes to proper food intake. There are several reasons that an elderly person may not be eating what they need to in order to be healthy. We’ll take a look at a few common ways that caregivers can reduce malnutrition in the elderly they love so dearly.

Caregivers Can Reduce Malnutrition In The Elderly By Looking For A Few Key Clues

If your elderly loved one is not suffering from a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia, then there are other practical reasons why they are not eating or at least not eating what they should be to stay in good health.

The Number One Reason Is Depression A staggering amount of elderly suffer from chronic depression. Sometimes it is a side effect of living with a chronic illness, other times it’s isolation or loneliness. No matter what the reason, depression is a main factor in why the elderly stop eating well. Is your elderly loved one no longer interested in the things they used to be? Have they stopped cooking for themselves? Has their demeanor changed recently? Have they had a change in their sleeping patterns for more than a few days?

Depression creeps and can wreak havoc on an elderly person’s life. Stay alert to behavior changes and how they relate to your elderly loved one’s eating habits. Make sure your recording their changes and compare notes with others who interact or care for your loved one.

Access To The Right Food Is A Common Problem – Many elderly people become limited physically in some way. Difficulty walking or balancing, decreased energy, or inability to have access to transportation are the 3 most common reasons that elderly people will give as their reason for not shopping for themselves. Rather than doing a week’s worth of groceries that include fresh, nutritionally sound foods, they settle for whatever they can carry home and what will store well; usually frozen dinners and canned goods. These food items are not usually nutritionally balanced and are loaded with additives, sugar and sodium. While they may be easy to prepare, they are not going to provide the dietary nutrients for your elderly family member over the long term.

Caregivers can reduce malnutrition in the elderly in their care by finding ways they can receive groceries and meals without them travelling to get it. In-home grocery delivery, Meals on Wheels and other types of meal delivery organizations provide great solutions to getting healthy foods delivered right to their door.

Chewing And Swallowing Could Be An Issue For Them – Lack of proper dental health strongly contributes to an elderly person’s inability to chew the foods they need to avoid malnutrition. Whether the issue is tooth and/or jaw pain or improperly fitting dentures, pay attention to whether or not they appear to be having difficulty chewing and if necessary, make an appointment for them to be evaluated by a dentist.

Trouble swallowing or fear of choking is also another reason why your elderly loved one may be avoiding the foods they need to sustain proper nutrition. Difficulty swallowing is common with older people. If your mom or dad seem to be apprehensive about eating, talk to them about their ability to swallow or observe if they appear to having difficulty. If so, make plans to have them evaluated for a swallow test with their primary care physician for their health and safety.

Help Your Elderly Loved One Feel Good About Getting Proper Nutrition

One of the best ways caregivers can reduce malnutrition in the elderly is making observations and noting them for all involved to make the right decisions about care in real time. Collaborating with all of the people who help care for your elderly loved one is the best way to keep them healthy. Does your elderly loved one have other family members that interact with them and help with care? Are there home health aids or other in-home care specialists that help care for them? All of these touch points are pieces of information that fit into the overall care puzzle.

Getting the entire care team on the same page is the best way you can care for your elderly loved one. eCare Vault provides adult caregivers a means to solve the conundrum of proper history, collaboration and communication when they are caring for an elderly loved one that involves others providing care as well.

Caregivers and their helpers will do the most good for their elderly loved one when they are regularly sharing and comparing on daily interactions with the one they are caring for. Easy access to the same information, ability to share that information with healthcare providers when necessary is the missing key to proper elder care.

Now that you know how caregivers can reduce malnutrition in the elderly by making sure to communicate eating changes and collaborate with other caregivers on the situation to decide what to do next, get your login with eCare Vault today and start your elderly loved one’s care history for better nutrition success.

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