Unintentional weight loss in the senior years can be caused by serious physical and emotional issues ranging from cancer to depression, as well as by relatively minor issues such as limited access to favorite foods or difficulty tasting certain cuisines. No matter what is causing the weight loss, it is important for seniors and caregivers to keep a close eye on the situation to prevent further health complications.
1. Establish a Strict Eating Schedule
By sticking to a strict eating schedule, your senior loved one’s body may begin to expect a certain amount of calories at specific times of the day. If your loved one has a difficult time eating larger meals in one sitting, you might need to start this process very slowly. Instead of forcing your loved one to sit down and eat a full plate of food at designated times, he or she can take a few big sips of a protein shake every three or four hours.
Establishing strict eating schedules is just one of the many ways older adults can maintain their health and prevent unintentional weight loss. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Ahwatukee, Arizona, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
2. Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods
One of the most common mistakes caregivers make when trying to help seniors gain weight is giving them huge portions to eat at every meal. Increasing portion sizes might eventually help, but even seniors who are at a healthy weight can still be malnourished if they aren’t eating the right foods. Eating nutrient-dense superfoods with key vitamins and minerals can help your loved one gain weight while preventing nutritional deficiencies.
3. Provide Companionship During Mealtimes
A recent study published on ScienceDirect.com revealed that regularly eating alone can have a major impact on appetite. Eating alone is closely associated with malnourishment, sudden weight loss, and a wide variety of other health conditions. Sitting down and eating meals together can make this process more pleasant for everyone involved, and it can also give you control over what your loved one eats and how many calories he or she consumes each day.
You may not always have the time to sit down and share a meal with your senior loved one. In this case, it is best to hire a professional in-home care expert to offer your loved one company when eating. Whether your elderly loved one needs part-time assistance with basic household chores or you need a break from your caregiving duties, the Ahwatukee respite care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. All of our respite care services are backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts.
4. Alter Medications or Doses
Many prescription drugs suppress the appetite, cause nausea, and make it difficult to swallow food. If your loved one is having difficulty gaining weight, you might want to speak with a doctor about altering his or her medications or doses. In some cases, simply changing your loved one’s medication schedule could bring back his or her appetite. Make sure to speak with a doctor before making any changes to your loved one’s drug schedule.
5. Research Appetite Stimulants
Appetite stimulants generally help seniors gain weight, but they shouldn’t be thought of as a long-term solution. There are currently dozens of FDA-approved appetite stimulants on the market, but many of them have relatively strong side effects. You, your loved one, and his or her doctor need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of these drugs before making a decision. Seniors who are dangerously underweight might benefit from taking appetite stimulants for a few months until the underlying causes of weight loss are uncovered.
Seniors can prevent involuntary weight loss by making healthy lifestyle choices. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining healthy habits, consider hiring a professional elderly caregiver. Ahwatukee families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide dedicated and compassionate in-home caregivers who are trained in our holistic Balanced Care Method, which was designed to encourage seniors to exercise often, eat nutritious foods, maintain strong social ties, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To create a comprehensive at-home care plan to boost your loved one’s health and wellbeing, call us at (480) 448-6215 today.