The two most common symptoms of malnutrition in seniors are reduced appetite, and lack of interest in eating or drinking. Malnutrition is on the rise in elderly people. How do we spot the signs, and what can we do about it?  

It is common to think about individuals in war-torn countries or people facing extreme poverty when you hear the word malnutrition. But there are often symptoms of malnutrition in the elderly that are not so apparent and have nothing to do with their affluence or physical size.   

If you suspect malnutrition in your elderly parent, be on the lookout symptoms like; lack of energy, prolonged sadness, dementia or other memory issues, cracked or dry skin, and slow wound healing.   

What is malnutrition, and what are the symptoms of malnutrition?  

Elderly lady showing fatigue as one of the symptoms of malnutrition in the elderly.

According to Medical News Today, malnutrition occurs when an individual's diet does not offer sufficient nutrients for optimal health. It often leads to low weight, delayed growth, or wasting.  

There is a difference between undernutrition and malnutrition. The former is when someone lacks minerals and vitamins, whereas malnutrition is when an individual gets too little or too many nutrients. Too few nutrients is the most common form of malnutrition in the elderly.  

Contributing factors that may serve as indicators of symptoms of malnutrition  

In the USA, malnutrition in the elderly is often hidden. Did you know that one in two elderly individuals are at risk of malnutrition? It is often unrecognized and therefore left untreated.   

To put it in a nutshell – malnutrition takes place when your body does not get the right number of calories and nutrients to keep it healthy. It can happen to anyone. However, seniors are particularly at risk due to certain factors that come with age.   

What are some of the most prominent contributing factors that can lead to malnutrition? Let's take a look:  

The consequences of malnutrition are serious and can be dangerous. Without sufficient nutrition, our bodies will become ill. In turn, our immune systems will become weak, which leads to increased risk of disease.  

Malnutrition leads to slower recovery from illness, weight issues, muscle loss, balance difficulty, frailty, disability, falls, and loss of independence.   

Often the signs and symptoms of malnutrition in the elderly are subtle and dismissed as part of aging. If you are concerned over your loved one's health, nutrition or weight loss, consult with their primary care physician. You may need to be their patient advocate.

5 Signs and Symptoms of Malnutrition in Seniors

One symptom of malnutrition in the elderly is red or inflamed eyelids.

 Were you aware that nutritional deficiencies can affect the cognitive status of a person?    

Various signs can be detected in a malnourished elderly person. Noting these signs and symptoms can mean the world of difference to your loved one's health.  

Below are five common signs of malnutrition in the elderly.  

1 – Skin  

Many elderly folks have yellowish texture to their skin when they become malnourished. Darker-skinned may will have a dull look. In others, their wrinkles will be deep-set.   

2 – Eyes  

Malnutrition can have a significant affect on a person's eyes. They may be red or inflamed or their eyes may appear glassy. In some cases, the eyes' tissue may be thicker, or they may experience swelling in their cornea. This can make vision worse.  

3 – Mouth  

This area of the body shows clear signs of malnutrition in the elderly. The mouth may become bright red, and canker sores may develop. White patches on their cheeks or tongue are an indication of yeast infection or thrush in the mouth. This is likely to cause pain while eating and can lead to further malnutrition.

4 – Cognitive  

While it has not been proven that improved nutrition improves cognition in those who have seen a recent decline, it has been shown that cognition and malnutrition are closely linked. One's cognitive abilities are affected by malnutrition due to a lack of proper food meant to fuel and sustain our brain. Normal activities of daily living seem unimportant and be disregarded without proper nutrition.

5 – Muscles  

With declining nutritional status or malnutrition, the decline in muscular strength and stamina is quite apparent. The nutrients and vitamins are necessary for all life sustaining activity, not just improving activity tolerance or one's ability to stand up from a chair. Improved nutrition will help you and your loved one feel better overall with more energy and vitality. For this reason, eating a balance diet full for nutrient dense food is very important.

How to Overcome Nutritional Deficiencies in the Elderly  

Some ways to improve nutritional deficiencies involve making changes to meals and helping your elderly loved one maintain sound eating habits and keep up with a healthy diet. Encouraging fluid intake and avoiding dehydration is also important for nutritional status.

For instance, you can sit down with your loved ones and plan to prepare foods that are nutrient-rich and include various fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and fish.   

Adding a variety of herbs and spices can make a huge difference in improving the taste of your meals and boost your overall health.   

Ask about any concerns you have about your elderly parent's nutritional deficiencies with their doctor. Making a difference in the quality of life your loved one starts by paying attention to malnutrition symptoms and incorporating malnutrition treatment plans. 

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That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. PREVENTION OF FALLING AT HOME: STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PREVENT FALLING
  2. CARING FOR THE AGING AT HOME: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
  3. AGING IN PLACE AND STAYING OUT OF THE MEDICAL SYSTEM

The sandwich generation is usually middle-aged individuals who are tasked with the responsibility of caring for both their adult children and elderly loved ones. They are not necessarily the Baby boomer generation as they may also include the millennials who are in their 30s and whose parents need financial support while they have their own children to care for.   

The sandwich generation has a considerable challenge ahead of them. They are mostly middle-aged adults responsible for their growing kids and aging parents. They are sandwiched between taking care of aging loved ones in need of assistance physically or financially – and their kids who require emotional, physical, and financial support. At times, adult children return home; therefore, the phrase boomerang kids.  

They are usually in their mid-40s or 50s, working full time while doing their best to fulfill the role of caregivers at the same time. The sandwich generation has to care for their grandkids in cases where the parents (adult children) cannot do so due to workload.   

Understanding the Demoraphics and Challenges Faced by the Sandwich Generation  

Sandwich generation family composed of Grandparents, parents and children.

According to the Families and Work Institute Older Adult Caregiver Study compiled during 2014, roughly 53% of 1,050 adults cared for family members 65 years of age and older. As much as 61% provided care for adults 50 or older.  

One in seven adults provides financial assistance to their elderly parents as well as one or more children.   

Elderly care experts say the sandwich generation can be grouped as follows:  

Did you know that the term “sandwich generation” became so commonplace that it was added to the Merriam Webster Dictionary?  

Let’s turn our attention to the challenges faced by the sandwich generation. The most impacted area would be finances in taking care of multiple generations. Contrary to popular belief, it is not as much elderly parents as adult children aged 25 to 34 who require the most financial assistance.   

Is it any wonder that we need assistance to cope with sandwich generation stress? Working, managing your home, caring for parents. There may be no time or resources left for to care for yourself. This can lead to caregiver fatigue and burnout.

The uncertain times we live in related to a global pandemic and increasing unemployment leaves many of us with no choice but to face the burdens of helping out with daily activities, covering medical costs, and other financial concerns.  

Due to all kinds of stress factors, the sandwich generation is prone to experiencing:  

Tips on How to Bust Sandwich Generation Stress 

 

Activity with mother and daughter to  reduce sandwich generation stress

The primary mission of anyone who renders caregiving duties would be to ensure everyone they are responsible for is safe, healthy and happy. Unfortunately, a common by product is they tend to neglect their own needs. 

Below are ways to help reduce stress and tips on how to relieve financial burdens that would lead to a more positive experience:

Find a local support group to share ideas and ask questions from people who have been through similar challenges.

The elderly population keeps growing, and young adults are may be struggling to make ends meet during our trying economic times. This leads to folks in their mid-40s and 50s to become what they fondly refer to as the “sandwich generation”.  

Most importantly, as a sandwich generation member, you need to practice self-care by eating right, ensuring you invest in some downtime, get enough sleep, laugh a lot, and be willing to ask for and accept help when needed. 

JOIN MY EMAIL LIST
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That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. ADULT DAY CARE CENTER: HOW IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE
  2. DUTIES OF A CAREGIVER IN HOME
  3. WHAT IS RESPITE CARE FOR THE ELDERLY

Prevention of falls is not usually top of mind, but it is better to be proactive than reactive in this case. Why wait for a loved one to fall and risk injury, if there is a way to reduce the risk of this outcome? As our parents and loved ones age, normal changes greatly increase their risk of fall and injury. Today we discuss the steps you can take to help them prevent a fall.

Falling can put your loved one in harm's way and may result in serious injury and hospitalization. They likely need a few measures for prevention of falls that include hazard-proofing their residence, improving strength and balance, and talking with their primary care provider or pharmacist about the medications they take regularly.

According to the World Health Organization falls are among the second leading cause of unintentional injury or accidental deaths in the world. Adults aged 65 and older experience the greatest number of fatal falls.   

There is simply not enough attention paid to fall prevention in the elderly and strategies that emphasize creating safer environments for them. We want to address some of these and why it's important to see whether medications can play a role in fall risk management.  

Implement Strategies for Prevention of Falls  

Prevention of falls is important for this mans fututre.

One of the first things you should pay attention to is your loved one's medication. This is due to a variety of symptoms/side effects that can be caused by medications or drug interactions. These symptoms can include low blood pressure, dizziness, changes in vision and reduced balance among others. Take action by making an appointment with their physician or pharmacist.

Be sure to have their list of medications written out. Include over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and supplements to check for any interactions. Doctors are so specialized here in the US that you may see one doctor for your heart, one for your kidneys and have a separate primary care provider. They may unknowingly prescribe medications that do not interact well together.

If your loved one has fallen recently, be sure to mention this. Describe the situation, cause and symptoms surrounding the fall if possible.

Mention any health conditions are they currently struggling with ie. hard of hearing, low vision, dizziness, shortness of breath, numbness in your legs and feet, joint paint, etc.  

Making Your Home Safe to Prevent Falling

You do not necessarily have to do a full home remodel to improve the safety of the home.

Here are some ways to prevent falls:  

The Importance of Regular Eye Checkups for Prevention of Falls  

Man who did not learn from prevention of falling in the elderly at home and tripped on stairs

If your loved ones are wearing spectacles, be sure their current prescription is up to date and the glasses they're wearing are right for them.

Bear in mind that wearing transition tinted glasses may turn out to be hazardous when you move from a brighter area outside into darkened homes. A simple remedy is to pause for a while at the front entrance so your lenses may adjust to the different light conditions.   

Bifocals may result in misjudging issues that can be problematic where stairs or changes in flooring are involved. When possible, opt for a place where everything is on one level with no stairs. If this is not an option, use hand rails and go slow when initiating a trip up or down stairs.   

Prevention of falls is a concern for the children of elderly loved ones. If you notice that your elderly parent regularly holds onto furniture or walls when walking, it can be an indication they need to book an appointment with a physical therapist for strength exercises and balance training

For more ideas to make an elderly loved one's home safer to prevent falls, consult the home assessment checklist offered by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). 

JOIN MY EMAIL LIST
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And a free copy of the Static Balance Home Exercise Progression.


That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. STRETCHING EXERCISES FOR SENIORS TO IMPROVE MOBILITY IN 14 DAYS
  2. CARING FOR THE AGING AT HOME: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
  3. NEVER LET MOM USE CRUTCHES

Aging in place is when an elderly person makes an informed decision to remain in their home for as long as possible. They have access to needed services and the necessary care and support they deserve. These needs tend to change as time passes, so planning ahead increases independence.   

If you need more clarification about the definition of aging in place, follow that link as the article will provide some insight.

It has been shown that age we age, almost everyone would love to continue living in a home and community of their choice. This is a desire that is not hard to understand. You may have already moved or downsized to a more manageable home. The last thing you want when aging in place is to have to move again or to be transferred to a facility where your medical needs can be met. Review Aging in place vs. Step up in care model to see the different paths elder care can take.

When Do You Start Planning for Aging in Place at Home and in the Community?  

There are numerous advantages to aging in place communities and keeping the elderly in their own homes. The ability to live out your senior years as comfortably as you would like to involve careful planning with regards to economic and financial consideration.   

The sooner plans can be made for aging in place, the better. There are many moving pieces and with careful planning you can set yourself or a loved one up for success. As the old adage goes, "the best time to start was 5 years ago. The second best time to start is today."

What are Some of the Aging in Place Challenges Faced by Seniors?  

Teenager showing her grandmother how to use technology to improve her ability to age in place.

Aging changes how you experience life regardless of how fit you are and how well you’ve taken care of your body and mind. We should not overlook the inevitable in terms of mental, physical, and emotional changes we all go through. They do not necessarily have to be negative.

There are certainly many aging in place benefits such as learning to be more tolerant and patient rather than abrupt and impatient, which is behavior most often found in younger people.  

Some of the subtle changes we hardly notice include:  

Some people start experiencing these changes at 50 while others will only notice them once they hit 70. Successfully aging in place means you need to plan ahead for future changes.   

Did you know that in the year 2000 there were more than 35 million Americans at the age of 65 or older? This figure will have doubled by 2030 as per the US Census Board. Therefore, an astounding 20% of the American population will be seniors.   

It is in everybody’s best interest to keep older folks out of the medical system and facilities. Staying in their homes and communities as long as they possibly can is the best way to do this.   

Making this possible involves many innovative aspects related community care, policy, and experimenting with aging in place design.   

Aging in Place Home Modifications to Consider

  

Although Baby Boomers are in much better physical condition than previous generations, they still feel the effects of aging that takes its toll on their vision, physical well-being, and mobility.   

A growing trend is for families to open their homes for elderly relatives. This can be a cost effective way to provide needed assistance, but most people would prefer to stay in their own home. If the funds are available to make certain home modifications, aging in place may be suitable option.

There are several ways to modify your home or their home to accommodate aging in place for a loved one. Each modification should be used for improved function and prevention of falling at home.

One of the key areas in a home where mobility proves to be a challenge is the bathroom. Just a few simple renovations such as step-through tubs, bath bars, comfort height toilets, and showers with no curbs will make aging in place a lot easier.   

Stairs also present a challenge for aging loved ones in the home. Have you considered adding a chair lift for two-story homes to accommodate seniors who find it hard to walk? What about exterior rails or ramps to make entering the home easier?  

Chair lift as aging in place modification.

As we get older, we often fail to see things properly at night when everything is darker. It helps to fit motion-activated lighting or lighted cover plates to help someone with low vision find the light switch.   

A multi-generational household has become commonplace in the US due to the recent recession and job losses. 

Even in cases where seniors wish to stay in their own homes, it pays to consider some basic guidelines regarding aging in place design. Some of these include:  

Aging in place doesn’t mean you are left to your own devices to sort out everything yourself. There are various resources and technology available nowadays.   

If you didn’t have a chance to plan for specific modifications during your younger years, starting now is a good time to make much-needed changes in your home to improve the safety and function for the foreseeable future. The key ingredient is to be prepared and have a plan for aging in place.  

JOIN MY EMAIL LIST
For a free copy of 11 Common Fall Hazards in the Home and Solutions
And a free copy of the Static Balance Home Exercise Progression.



That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. COMPLETE GUIDE TO AGING IN PLACE
  2. CARING FOR THE AGING AT HOME: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
  3. WHAT ARE THE ADLS AND HOW A CAREGIVER MAY ASSIST