Seniors and Eating: 5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Malnutrition

Dianna Malkowski

By Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” It encourages personalized healthy eating styles and recognizes the impact of food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions, and health concerns. When it comes to seniors, personalization is the key to maintaining healthy eating habits.

Many seniors mistakenly consider frozen foods a one-size-fits-all solution. They’re typically inexpensive and convenient, but in most cases, they’re neither healthy nor appetizing. While businesses continually experiment with services like home-delivered frozen meals, it doesn’t solve the problem of too few calories, lack of fresh veggies, high sodium content and unwanted preservatives.

Here are five facts everyone should know about senior malnutrition:

1. Hunger and malnutrition are very real problems for America’s seniors. A study commissioned by the Meals On Wheels Association of America Foundation discovered 5 million American seniors are at risk of malnutrition, 2.5 million are at risk of hunger and about 750,000 experience hunger.

2. Signs and symptoms of malnutrition include weight loss, muscle weakness, poor wound healing and bruising.

3. There are many causes of malnutrition, including financial limitations, medications, depression, and physical problems that can limit seniors’ ability to shop for and prepare meals and eat without difficulty.

4. There are a variety of programs to help seniors get proper nutrition. Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Assistance Programs page to see whether your loved one qualifies for federal or state help.

Mom's Meals delivers freshly  prepared foods to homes.
5. For those who don’t qualify for government assistance, there are affordable services, like Mom’s Meals, which delivers tasty, nutritionally balanced, freshly prepared meals to a customer’s doorstep. Each meal is priced as low as $5.99 plus shipping, contains fresh foods, is microwaveable and will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks. Mom’s Meals offers 45 unique meal choices, including specialty choices like low-sodium, low-fat, gluten-free and more.  Plus they offer inside delivery so customers don’t have to lug heavy boxes.

In addition to choosing tasty, nutritious foods, other ways to fight malnutrition include encouraging daily exercise, turning meals into social events and discussing treatment options with your loved one’s nutritionist or doctor.

National Nutrition Month, sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is a campaign to educate on the importance of sound eating and physical activity habits.

Read “9 Ways to Get Someone to Eat” and more on The CareGiver Partnership blog.

Watch this video for tips on recognizing and preventing senior malnutrition.

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 advisers for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. 


Andria @ Hong Kong office rental said...

Maintaining healthy eating habits is really important to everyone, especially when it comes to elders. My parents are in their early 70’s. So I will be very careful when selecting food for them. Thanks for your tips. Those are really helpful for me.

Granny annexe said...

I am a caregiver of my husband’s parents. These tips are really helpful for me. Thanks a lot.

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