Older adult enjoying nutritious bowl of soup at table with other elderly individuals

According to the World Health Organization, malnutrition is best described as deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. It is a common condition in older adults and poses serious concerns regarding their overall health. Understanding the warning signs is important to prevent a decline in health due to poor nutrition.

Belleville Senior Services in Belleville, New Jersey, is an adult medical daycare provider that is committed to providing the highest level of care for seniors through personalized and professional health services. Here, we dive deeper into this topic to discuss the signs and symptoms of malnutrition in seniors and how they might best be rectified or prevented.

What to Look For

Proper nutrition is necessary at any age but especially for aging adults. A diet rich in lean proteins, fresh produce, and healthy carbohydrates is needed to promote good health and well-being, both physically and mentally.

Weight loss is the most known symptom associated with malnutrition. However, it’s not the only one. Signs that an elderly loved one is malnourished include:

  • Lack of energy or often experiencing fatigue
  • Weakened immune system
  • Longer than normal recovery times for wounds and other injuries
  • Loss of appetite and interest in food
  • Loose-fitting clothes
  • Rotten produce and expired food in the pantry and refrigerator
  • Difficulties with chewing or swallowing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Frequent hospitalizations due to falls, illnesses, and infections
  • Infrequent bowel movements
  • Edema, especially in the hands, face, and feet

Health Concerns Related to Malnutrition

Poor nutrition is highly concerning in seniors as it can lead to several dangerous health problems. Seniors who aren’t receiving the proper amount of nutrients may experience the following medical issues:

  • Infections due to weakened immune system
  • Diminished cognitive function
  • Slips and falls due to general weakness and loss of muscle mass
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Increased risk of heart failure

Preventing Malnutrition in Older Adults

Addressing malnutrition begins by helping prevent it. To improve a loved one’s nutrition, consider the following tips:

Make Mealtime a Social Event

Older adults are more likely to be malnourished when they dine alone. Consider occasionally joining your loved one for mealtime or inviting them to dine with you at your home or out at a restaurant. Eating together also provides an opportunity to introduce your loved one to new, nutritious foods.

Liven Up Bland Foods

Diet restrictions often dictate what foods an individual eats. Depending on the restrictions, they may be limited to bland, unappetizing food options. Herbs, spices, seasonings, and condiments can help restore flavor to bland foods, helping to increase appetite and interest in food.

Encourage Snacking

Snacking on healthy foods throughout the day is an excellent way to get extra nutrients and calories between meals. This can be especially beneficial for seniors who get full quickly at mealtimes. Have healthy snacks readily available to help prevent malnutrition.

Add Healthy Shakes

Difficulties with chewing and swallowing can decrease a person’s desire to eat, leading to poor nutrition. An alternative is adding healthy shakes and smoothies to a person’s diet. Nutrients are much easier to consume in liquid form.

Nutrition Services in Belleville, New Jersey

At Belleville Senior Services, we understand the importance of proper nutrition. Dedicated to helping improve the overall quality of life for those we serve, we are pleased to offer a senior nutrition program to older adults in the Belleville, NJ, area. With an emphasis on health and taste, we offer customized meal plans focused on well-balanced nutrition.

During a care consultation, we discuss the client’s diet and health needs, as well as medical history and lifestyle to learn the type of care needed. With the information provided to us, we begin creating a personalized nutrition plan tailored specifically to you or your loved one. If you are interested in learning more about malnutrition in seniors and how we can help improve nutrition, contact us today at Belleville Senior Services.