In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on senior malnutrition and its causes. While malnutrition can impact anyone at any age, some seniors are at higher risk due to several variables, from illness and aging changes to medications, food access and many other potential themes.
At Avamere at Mountain Ridge, our assisted living communities feature staff members who are well-versed in the basics of nutrition for people of all ages, including our senior guests. We’re happy to work with each of our residents to meet their precise nutritional needs, plus to assist with themes like taking medication during meals and related concerns. Today’s part two of our series will go over some general strategies for preventing malnutrition in seniors, both for seniors themselves and their caregivers, plus offer a quick word on situations where medical assistance might be prudent here.
General Malnutrition Prevention
Whether you’re a senior or a caregiver, there are several steps that can be taken to prevent malnutrition in older adults. Here are some of the best:
- Keep an eye out: Monitoring is an important task here for both parties. Every so often, perhaps once a week or so, seniors should weigh themselves or have their caregiver assist with this, and track weight over time. Also keep track of how your clothes fit, plus whether any specific eating or nutrition habits have changed recently, as these are often some of the first signs of malnutrition.
- Medication themes: If you or a senior loved one takes specific medications, keep track of all of them, their dosages, their schedules and, particularly important around mealtime, whether they have any side effects that may impact appetite.
- Meal plans: When possible, plan out healthy meals in advance. Many caregivers will shop along with their senior loved one, or at minimum keep them involved in the shopping list creation. In other cases, you might consider local meal delivery services.
- Physical activity: Finally, daily exercise, even of a light variety, is very important for strengthening not only bones and muscles, but also the appetite.
There are also a few things to consider right around mealtime:
- Good foods: Plan meals including lots of fruits and veggies, plus whole grains, fish and various lean meats. It’s also good to use herbs and spices to add flavor.
- Snacks: If you or your loved one likes to snack, plan healthy options to have available.
- Supplements: Some seniors may do well with supplemental nutritional drinks for calorie intake.
If you’re a senior or caregiver worried about malnutrition, do not be afraid to speak to your doctor about this concern. Doctors can assist with a variety of areas here, from monitoring weight to treating conditions that lead to malnutrition, plus offering expertise on changing diets and how to properly maintain a good nutritional program at any age.