If you have an elderly loved one in your life, you might often feel concerned about their health. There are many illnesses and diseases that the elderly are more open to as they age, and they have a higher risk of injury due to mobility issues. However, there is a very common problem that is much simpler than these things, yet it often goes unnoticed.
Malnutrition occurs when the body does not get the proper nutrients and vitamins from the food we consume. Unfortunately, sometimes the signs of malnutrition are hard to spot, because we are not really looking for them, and because sometimes they overlap with symptoms of other illnesses.
Here are some of the signs of malnutrition you or your elder care aide may notice in your senior if they are not following a proper diet:
- Brittle hair – Dry, brittle hair can be a sign of malnutrition. You might notice that your aging loved one’s hair looks wispy or even crispy when you look at it up close, or it may feel dry or straw-like to the touch. This is due to the fact that our hair and skin need protein, fatty acids, iron, and other nutrients in order to stay strong, soft, and luminous. The absence of these things can really take a toll on our appearance, as well as on the body and spirit beneath them.
- Fatigue – Have you or your elder care aide noticed that your aging loved one is much more tired than usual? This can be due to an iron deficiency. Low iron can lead to anemia, which makes the body weak, and makes it very difficult to get around as one normally would without feeling as if they have exhausted all of their strength.
- Diarrhea – No one wants to think about diarrhea, but if your loved one has been having it often, this could mean that the foods are passing through their system too quickly, without leaving the necessary nutrients behind. In this case, diarrhea can be both a cause and a symptom of malnutrition, so if your loved one often has loose bowel movements, you should have them see a doctor.
- Lack of appetite – It seems strange that malnutrition could cause the thing that seemingly causes it – the loss of the will to eat – but studies have shown that this is often the case. If your body is not getting healthy, nutritious foods, it doesn’t really want you to put anything else into it. The worse food you eat, the worse you feel, and the less you want to eat anything at all.
If you or your elder care aide have noticed any of these symptoms in the senior you love, look into their diet to see if there are any changes that need to be made. Whether you find anything or not, it might also be a good idea to schedule a doctor’s appointment to get your loved one checked out, and to find out just which nutrients they are lacking.
If you or someone you know needs elder care in St. Cloud, MN, contact Prairie River Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.