The CareGiver Partnership Offers Tips on Recognizing Malnutrition in Older Adults

by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

Dianna Malkowski
March is National Nutrition Month, recognized annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association. In recognition, The CareGiver Partnership offers the following tips on indentifying malnutrition in seniors.

Malnutrition can lead to physical and emotional problems at any age, but older adults with poor nutrition are more likely to be admitted to hospitals or long-term care facilities following illness, dementia or weight loss. By becoming familiar with common malnutrition signs, we can help promote an older adult’s health and longevity. Early identification and treatment of nutrition problems can make it easier for your loved one to get back on track.
  • Regularly spend mealtimes together, not just holidays and special occasions, to learn a senior’s eating habits. If an older adult lives alone, talk to the person who buys groceries.
  • Look for social and psychological factors that may contribute to malnutrition, such as little social contact, limited income, depression, excessive use of alcohol, loss of appetite because of recent illness, dental problems or trouble eating, medication that affect appetite or nutrient absorption, and dietary restrictions that make food  unappealing.
  • Pay attention to physical signs of malnutrition, including loose clothing or other signs of weight loss, oral health problems, excessive bruising that may indicate anemia, or wounds that take longer than normal to heal.
Take advantages of services like Mom’s Meals that offer home delivery of freshly prepared meals, including choices to meet special dietary needs. Whenever possible, make meals more social by eating together, or encourage seniors to join programs or groups where they might eat with others.

Dianna Malkowski is a Board-Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic-trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisors for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. Ask Dianna a question, or for one-on-one help with incontinence products, call 1-800-985-1353 M-F 9-4 CDT.

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