The Challenges Of Hunger And Under-Nutrition Among America’s Aging Population
More than 1 in 3 seniors in the care of others are at risk for under- or mal-nutrition (Mayo Clinic/American Dietetic Association). Malnutrition is the lack of proper nutrition, not necessarily a lack of food. Detecting malnutrition in seniors may be difficult, and even seniors who eat enough may be eating the wrong foods to keep themselves healthy. At Comfort Keepers®, we help seniors live healthy, independent lives. That’s why we have created an initiative to address senior nutrition issues.
As seniors age and change, so do their nutritional needs. So keeping them properly fed and healthy makes a real difference in their quality of life. Comfort Keepers wants caregivers and family members to be aware of ways to monitor the nutrition of seniors in your care. Download our nutrition fact sheet to learn more about detecting hunger and malnutrition in seniors, tips for eating on a fixed income and eating healthy to manage symptoms.
In an effort to help build awareness about senior nutrition issues, we are using the holiday season to share nutrition resources with caregivers and family members. Follow us on Twitter, visit our blog, or visit our Comfort Keepers Facebook page to learn more about stopping senior hunger.
As a caregiver or family member, you need to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of hunger or malnutrition in older adults. Here are some ways to monitor the nutrition of seniors in your care:
- Watch for physical problems such as poor wound healing, easy bruising and dental difficulties.
- Keep track of weight loss which may require purchasing a home scale or transporting to the doctor’s office for weight checks when the individual is unable to stand without assistance.
- Pay close attention to seniors’ eating habits and ask them to tell you where and when they eat, but don’t rely on self-reports alone. Since Comfort Keepers® often spend mealtimes with seniors at home, they may have a better idea of normal eating habits.
- Suggest family members visit during mealtimes which can improve a senior’s consumption. If a senior lives alone, make sure you know who is buying his or her food.
- Know what medications an older loved one takes and how often they can affect appetite and digestion. Use the resources available through your local retail pharmacist to check for drug nutrient interactions or possible side effects of prescribed medications.
- If there are medical questions regarding nutrition, medication and health Comfort Keepers® suggests seniors, their family members and other caregivers speak with doctors about tests that can help identify chronic malnutrition or other nutrition-related problems.
- You can help fight senior hunger and malnutrition by donating non-perishable food items to your local participating Comfort Keepers office. Click here to find your local office, and call for food collection dates.