10 Warning Signs of Poor Nutrition for Seniors and Elderly

Caregivers can easily notice poor dietary habits if they know what to look for

RICHMOND, VA - So how do you know if your senior's diet fits the bill? These 10 warning signs are red flags that may signal a potential problem:

1. Loss of appetite: If your senior has always been a hearty eater but no longer eats as he or she used to, it's time to find out why. Underlying illness could be the root cause.

2. Little to no interest in eating out: If your loved one has always loved eating out at a favorite restaurant but no longer shows interest, dig deeper to determine the problem.

3. Depression: Change in appetite is a classic sign of depression. Be sure to follow up with a physician if you suspect depression may be a problem.

4. Sudden weight fluctuation: A weight change - losing or gaining 10 pounds in six months - is another sign that something could be amiss.

5. Expired or spoiled food: Check the refrigerator for expired or spoiled food. Seniors could be saving food until it's no longer safe. Make sure that all food is labeled, with the date, in large letters and numbers.

6. Skin tone: Observe your senior's skin tone. If she is eating properly, her skin should look healthy and well-hydrated.

7. Lethargy: If your loved one has regularly been active and enjoyed taking walks but suddenly becomes lethargic, encourage him to see a doctor. Poor nutrition could be to blame.

8. Cognitive problems: Seniors who live alone might forget to eat. Dementia and cognitive problems can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Quick intervention is vital.

9. More than three medications: Medication can influence both appetite and weight. Check with your senior's doctor to find out if his medications could be the culprit.

10. A recent illness: Illness or a hospital stay could make a senior stop eating. Keep tabs on your loved one's recovery, making sure she has reliable help at home.

An estimated 83 percent of family caregivers in the U.S. and 76 percent in Canada help with groceries or other errands; 65 percent in the U.S. and 53 percent in Canada assist with meal preparation.

More information can be found at the Food for Seniors website at http://foodforseniors.com. There, you can download a brochure entitled, "Cooking Under Pressure," that provides both seniors and caregivers with great nutrition tips and recipes.

And, remember, if you need help with meal preparation, Home Instead Senior Care of Richmond can provide caregivers who do just that, as well as help with medication reminders, light housekeeping, transportation and companionship too. Simply call our office anytime at 804.527.1100 for a caring consultation.