Malnutrition, or failing to get the nutrients necessary, can happen for a variety of reasons. You might not expect that your senior’s own health could be contributing to malnutrition, though.
Depression Affects Appetite
When many people are experiencing depression, they’re unable to find a desire to eat. If that describes your senior, she may be eating far less than you realize. She may be eating just enough to keep herself going, but even that can mean she’s getting too few nutrients to truly thrive. Helping your elderly family member to deal with her depression can often turn her appetite problems around, so that’s likely the first place you want to start.
She’s Taking Medications
The medications that your senior takes may be absolutely vital for her continued well-being. Unfortunately, many of the medications she takes may have side effects that can do things like affect your senior’s appetite, interfere with her ability to process certain nutrients, or that can actually deplete certain nutrients in her body. Talk with your elderly family member’s doctor and pharmacist about how the medications she takes are likely to affect her ability to continue to eat a healthy diet.
She’s Experiencing Chronic Pain
If your aging family member is in pain on a regular basis, she may have additional problems related to eating or to digesting her food. Additionally, severe pain can cause her to be unable to cook foods that are healthy for her to be eating. She may opt for less healthy foods or eat very little because it’s so difficult to cook. Some of the medications that help her to manage her pain may further affect her appetite, too.
She May Need a Special Diet
There may be a need for your senior to eat a specific diet in order to manage some aspects of her health. If she doesn’t want to follow that diet or if she opts to follow only a portion of it, she might not be getting all of her nutritional needs met. It’s also possible that extremely restricted diets cause unintended side effects in your senior, like depleting her body of other nutrients. Make sure that you talk with her doctor about what your senior should expect from her special diet.
Whatever the reasons for her malnutrition, it’s important to solve what you can. If you’re not sure how well your senior is eating or you know that cooking is becoming difficult for her, home care services providers are a good solution. They can help you to keep tabs on what’s going on and take over cooking duties.