Do you know what your senior is eating or how often she’s having meals? If you’re not sure, your elderly family member could be at risk of malnutrition. There are multiple reasons that you want to help your elderly family member to avoid malnourishment, but these are among the biggest reasons to do so. With you or your elder care provider taking action sooner rather than later can help your senior to avoid some of the most serious complications on this list.
Decreased Muscle Tone
When your senior isn’t getting enough of the nutrition she needs, she’s far more likely to lose muscle tone. Protein in particular helps to maintain muscles, and when your senior isn’t getting enough she’s at greater risk of losing muscle faster. She’s also less likely to be moving as much as she should, further hastening muscle loss.
Food is what gives your aging family member the energy to do the things that she wants to do every day. When she’s not getting the nutrition she needs, it’s more difficult for her to even want to move around. That means that even just walking around her home might be more difficult for your senior than it ever has been.
Higher Fall Risk
Malnutrition can cause other types of weakness, too, like decreased bone mass. Which can mean that if your elderly family member should fall, she is more likely to break a bone. Dizziness from low blood sugar can also contribute to a higher fall risk. Even one fall is dangerous, but if your elderly family member does fall she is twice as likely to experience another fall and that one may even prove more harmful to her.
Weaker Immune System
Your aging family member’s immune system doesn’t get what it needs if she’s not getting enough nutrients, either. That means that she may be more susceptible to just about all of the germs that come her way and wounds may take longer to heal. If she’s dealing with other illnesses, like diabetes, that means that she needs to be even more careful about wounds.
Higher Risk of Hospitalization
Ultimately, your elderly family member greatly increases her risk of ending up in the hospital if she is malnourished. That time in the hospital might even be because of something that would have been preventable if she were getting the nutrients that she needs. And if your elderly family member does end up in the hospital, it can take much longer for her to get back out of it again because of the toll that malnutrition takes on her body.
There are some things that you can do to help your senior avoid this situation. Work with her doctor to determine what she should be eating and what nutrients she needs most. Elder care providers can assist your elderly family member with meal preparation, grocery shopping, and so much more related to keeping her body nourished. Caregivers are there to help, not to judge. With the help of elder care providers, you’ll also have a better idea of exactly what your elderly family member is eating.