Even though shedding extra pounds is considered healthy, it could be a serious cause for concern when it happens involuntarily in senior citizens. Weight loss in adults is more common in adults over 65 years of age. Involuntary weight loss could be a symptom of more dangerous medical conditions or lead to it. Hence, weight loss in older adults needs to be properly managed for the general health and wellness of the affected individual. The most common causes of weight loss in seniors have been discussed below.
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As people get older and less mobile, they are likely to be alone and lonely more often. Extreme feelings of loneliness and social isolation could be very detrimental to elderly loved ones. It could lead to a lack of appetite or a decreased appetite to prepare food which eventually causes weight loss.
Furthermore, it could trigger depression in them. Frequent lack of energy, restlessness, crying or consistent sad countenance are signs of depression. Weight loss in adults may also be common in people with bipolar and personality disorders, anxiety and depression, and many other mental health conditions
Fortunately, there are lots of medications to combat depression nowadays. Although the side effects of some medications include weight loss, consult your doctor for the most suitable one. Your doctor can also be of help by recommending activities to engage your senior ones to get rid of feelings of isolation.
- Inability to carry out daily living activities
Weight loss in your elderly ones could mean that they struggle with normal day-to-day activities. As one grows older, the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) decreases. It gets worse when they pass the driving age. Trips to the grocery stores get more difficult, or they lack the stamina to prepare healthy meals. These could cause a reduction in the intake of calories and result in weight loss. You could assist your elderly ones with the shopping and preparation of healthy food and groceries. Or you simply employ the services of a home caregiver.
- Physical Challenges with Eating
As people grow old, one of the likely downsides is that they may experience difficulties while trying to eat. This may include dental problems or jaw pain, which makes it painful for them to eat. Seniors with dentures may find eating a hassle or totally impossible if the dentures don’t fit properly. Nausea, indigestion, and altered taste are some of the possible natural effects of aging or a side effect of medications used by the elderly that may affect their nutrition and consequently lead to unhealthy weight loss.
- Chronic illness
Serious medical conditions like cancer and diabetes could lead to weight loss in senior citizens. One of the most obvious signs of cancer is weight loss. Cancer of the colon, lungs, stomach, breast, and prostate are common cancer types that are more common among the elderly. The earlier the detection of the disease, the more effective treatment is.
Unintentional weight loss associated with frequent urination, and excessive thirst are common symptoms of diabetes. It can be diagnosed with simple blood tests. Weight loss could also indicate that the condition is not being properly managed.
Dementia could cause alterations in taste and smell, which may negatively impact one’s appetite. Other chronic conditions that cause involuntary weight loss include heart and Parkinson’s disease as well as thyroid and gastrointestinal problems.
The Dangers Of Unintentional Weight Loss In Seniors
Unintentional weight loss should always be a cause for concern more so in the elderly. Of course, not all aged adults lose weight. In fact, there are some who are overweight. Such individuals can benefit from diet and physical routines that aid healthy weight loss which can be quite beneficial to their body. However, when weight loss is a problem is when it is not intentional or it occurs uncontrollably. This can have a wide range of adverse effects.
The health risks of unhealthy weight loss in seniors can be quite serious. Unhealthy weight loss can compromise a person’s immune system causing health to deteriorate. It can also impede a person’s ability to recover quickly.
Involuntary weight loss can also lead to fatigue, weakness, and a general decline in health. This could also have psychological effects as well as makes socialization difficult. Loss of weight can also make an aging person more prone to injuries and falls. This is one of the downsides that can be particularly dangerous for seniors.
Tips To Help Seniors To Maintain A Healthy Weight
Eat a balanced diet: as a person grows older, there’s a need to adjust a person’s diet to match new bodily demands that come with old age. An elderly person’s diet should consist of food that will help with maintaining a healthy weight. A healthy daily diet should consist of all classes of food each day to ensure proper intake of calories and basic nutrients from them.
Avoid junk foods when you dine out: junk food can be detrimental for people of all ages, but even more for the elderly. As you grow older, you should work on switching unhealthy junk food for healthier alternatives.
Exercising: while exercising might be difficult for the elderly, there are some routines that you might still be able to do. Also, staying active (no matter how little) is always recommended over living a sedentary lifestyle. Staying active can help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, kidney diseases, high blood pressure, and so on. It can also help you to maintain your posture, coordination, and gives you more strength.
Involuntary weight loss in senior citizens mostly indicates health deterioration. Hence, your senior loved ones must go for health checkups regularly for early diagnosis and treatment of these ailments. Unfortunately, unintentional weight loss in seniors and its resulting consequences are often assumed to be normal. Thus, many people pay less attention when they are affected or when they see their loved ones suffering from it. If attention is paid to unintentional weight loss, the causes would be identified and properly handled before it gets much worse