Malnutrition might not always be easily detectable, but it’s something that family caregivers should watch out for. The blog, A Place For Mom, reported that according to the American Academy of Family Physicians there were 3.7 million senior citizens who were diagnosed with malnutrition.
At A Place For Mom they advise caregivers to “WATCH” for the following:
- Watch for physical problems such as bruising, weight loss and dental problems as potential signals.
- Ask seniors about their eating habits — have their eating preferences changed?
- Talk to a doctor about the nutritional needs of your aging parent. Also discuss physical or dental problems that could affect their eating.
- Check with your pharmacist. The pharmacist can warn you of the potential for drug-food interactions. Medications can also have side effects that affect appetite, digestion or nutrient absorption
- Have your visits at mealtimes so you can observe eating habits firsthand.
Combating malnutrition in seniors
The Mayo Clinic offers five helpful suggestions for combating malnutrition in seniors:
1. Encourage a nutritious and palatable diet. Foods such as chopped nuts, nut butters, wheat germ, egg whites and cheese can be added to meals for an additional nutritional boost. Herbs and seasonings can improve the taste of food for seniors, as well.
2. Snacks! Plan snacks for between meals.
3. Socialize mealtimes. Visit your loved one at mealtimes or encourage them to eat with friends at senior centers.
4. Exercise can improve appetite. Help seniors get regular exercise to improve their eating.
5. Provide tips and assistance with ways to save money on food. Seniors can split the cost of food in bulk with friends and family and can also seek out outlets that offer senior discounts.
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