Weight Loss Among the Elderly - Is It Due to Depression or Dementia?

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posted by Ryan Whittington on July 14, 2011

At Seniors Home Care we empower our caregivers and staff by providing ongoing training programs.  This information is also helpful to family caregivers who may have noticed a loved one's weight loss. 

Unintentional weight loss is a common problem among individuals recovering from illness or injury, and especially the elderly. This is regardless of whether are in assisted living, independent living or at home.  An estimated 40-50% of elderly persons in hospitals and long term care facilities suffer from malnutrition, resulting in unintentional weight loss. Unintentional weight loss can cause serious physical problems, such as decubitus ulcer formation, and lower immunity, which can cause infection. It may also result in loss of muscle mass, which can lead to falls and injury.

Reasons for low food intake:

  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Dental Problems
  • Disease
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Difficulty feeding self
  • Poor appetite
  • Medications
  • Environmental conditions

How you can help:

  1. Frequent weighing can help to identify a problem before it gets too far out of hand. This includes accurate documentation.
  2. Recording food intake. Write down the amount of food eaten immediately instead of trying to remember at the end of the day. Studies have shown that it is most common to overestimate the amount of food eaten.
  3. Avoid "empty calorie" snack foods such as chips, and cookies since these do not provide adequate nutrition.
  4. Whenever possible include the family members when someone is having a hard time eating. Input from family members regarding food likes and dislikes is extremely helpful in encouraging the senior to eat.
  5. Add nutritional supplements to the diet. Products such as Ensure, when eaten between meals can help to maintain a proper weight. Many times these products are also available in the form of pudding, ice cream or shakes.

Searching for Help

As a private duty home care company, a primary services we offer is meal preparation and monitoring.  If you or a family member have tried some of the above solutions and find yourself struggling still, reach out to us or call 314-962-2666.

Post Tags

Advocacy and Education, Alzheimer's and Dementia, Caregiving, Case Management, and Health

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