If you are not familiar with the term hidden hunger, or malnutrition, let me introduce you to this new concept. When foods do not provide people with the necessary vitamins and minerals, they suffer from hidden hunger or micronutrient deficiencies. Many seniors suffer from malnutrition because of hidden hunger. We have made a guide for you to understand how to spot and deal with malnutrition in seniors…
What Is Malnutrition?
There are two forms of malnutrition that elders are prone to. The first one is eating food that does not provide their bodies with sufficient nutrients, or the second, more common one, which is not eating enough food in the first place. This is especially common in seniors since they generally suffer from a distinct lack of appetite.
Keep in mind that not all food is created equal; there can be a meal that makes you feel full, but they do not have any value in your body. A full plate does not mean that the old adults are getting enough nutrition.
Causes Of Malnutrition…
Difficulty getting food
One may be struggling with income and not being able to afford food or, some seniors might have health-related problems that do not allow them to be able to leave the house to get food.
Physical Health Problems
Health problems can be the cause of malnutrition or a factor that can actually make malnutrition worse. Common health problems seniors may face are poor dental health, loss of appetite or changes in how food tastes and smells.
Mental Health Concerns
As you get older, you don’t have as much to do as you used to. There are a lot of things that those around you might do that you have to refrain from, such as heavy physical activities. Some seniors are alone most of the time, which leads to depression, and depression eventually leads to loss of appetite.
How can malnutrition be detected?
Most of the time, it is difficult to detect malnutrition, especially in the early stages. Seniors are able to hide their malnutrition from their loved ones so as not to alarm them. If you have an older adult in your home, or in your neighbourhood, watch for the following symptoms as 25% of seniors suffer from malnutrition…
Signs and symptoms:
- Recurring illnesses, especially if the person didn’t used to get sick often.
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing.
- Sudden weight loss
- Clothing becomes baggy.
How To Promote Healthy Eating Habits?
Before you start looking at solutions, try to learn what triggers this condition. If you know the specific factors, it will be easier for you to fix the problem. We have listed some general solutions that can help;
If they are having trouble eating healthy, you can help them by shopping for them, preparing their meals a week in advance, planning their meals, setting up a grocery or meal delivery service, and making sure they have healthy snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and vegetables for in-between meals.
If you have found that older adults have difficulty eating (chewing and swallowing), consult a professional who can prescribe supplements according to their needs. Buy foods that are easy to eat, such as yogurts, smoothies, and soft foods.
As mentioned earlier, the lack of appetite may be due to the person’s mental state. If this is the case with your loved one, advise them to talk to a therapist or psychologist. Try to include them in the family; organize weekly meals where they can have some company for dinner. Communication is key when it comes to mental health. Whether with a professional or a family member, it’s best if they can talk about their feelings.
It can be complicated to detect malnutrition, but you should talk to a dietitian once it is done, especially if your loved one has other conditions that need special care. Once the detection is done, you can promote healthy habits without pressurizing them. Let us know in the comments what you think of seniors’ malnutrition.