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According to Mayo Clinic representative and nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, “being underweight can make a senior or elderly individual more susceptible to infections or muscle loss.” Various studies have proved that the body actually begins to feed on itself when it is not provided with a sufficient amount of calories. Once its carbohydrate and fat reserves have been depleted, the body begins to use protein for “fuel.” This is accomplished by breaking down muscle fibers, which can lead to heart, lung and kidney failure.
As a leading provider of home care in Greenwich, we know that being underweight is a common issue for seniors and that there are a variety of things that could be causing the problem. For instance, a senior’s sense of smell and taste can decline, making once favorite foods seem unappealing. For others, changes in physical ability might make it difficult to prepare meals or travel to the store to purchase fresh foods. The natural aging process can also reduce a senior’s appetite, leaving them to eat less simply because they are not hungry.
Multiple dietitians suggest that underweight seniors approach increasing their caloric intake by eating multiple small meals throughout the day as opposed to adhering to a more traditional three-daily-meals regime. The calorie content of meals can also be increased in healthy ways by adding foods that contain heart-healthy fats such as almonds and olive oil to dishes. Protein supplements are also good for adding calories to meals. For example, one protein drink such as Ensure Plus can contain more than 300 calories. In terms of size, these drinks are often the equivalent of a cup of coffee.
There are a number of websites such as www.healthaliciousness.com that can help seniors plan meals to help facilitate maintaining, losing or gaining weight. Families should also consider helping their aging loved one’s prepare meals, going over a few times a week to assist with grocery shopping and the actual cooking process. If you or your other family members are unable to provide assistance to your loved one in their home, you may want to consider hiring a professional caregiver. Caregivers who provide in-home hourly care in Greenwich are a great resource to seniors and can assist with daily tasks such as nutritious meal preparation, while also helping with light housekeeping, medication reminders, personal care and more.
It is also important to note that any dietary changes should be discussed with a nutritionist or a physician beforehand, and this is especially true when it comes to the elderly who may have underlying health issues. Also be sure to accompany your loved one to their appointment so that you can make sure that all information is heard and understood.
Want to learn more about senior nutrition and health? Reach out to the Greenwich live-in home care experts at Home Care Assistance. While we specialize in around the clock care for seniors, we also provide reliable care on a part-time basis. Call us at 203-842-8863 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with one of our friendly Care Managers.