The CareGiver Partnership Offers Tips on Recognizing Malnutrition in Older Adults

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March is National Nutrition Month, recognized annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association. In recognition, The CareGiver Partnership, a national retailer of home healthcare products, offers tips on identifying malnutrition in seniors.

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Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

Early identification and treatment of nutrition problems can make it easier for your loved one to get back on track.

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, says Dianna Malkowski, physician assistant, nutritionist and professional adviser for The CareGiver Partnership.

“By becoming familiar with common malnutrition signs, we can help promote an older adult’s health and longevity,” says Malkowski. “Early identification and treatment of nutrition problems can make it easier for your loved one to get back on track.”

Malkowski suggests looking for signs in these three areas:

  •     Regularly spending mealtimes together, not just holidays and special occasions, can be effective in learning a senior’s eating habits. If an older adult lives alone, family members should talk to the person who buys groceries.
  •     Social and psychological factors 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.
  •     Physical signs of malnutrition include 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,” says Malkowski. “Whenever possible, make meals more social by eating together, or encourage seniors to join programs or groups where they might eat with others.”

For more information, see “Malnutrition in the Elderly” on The CareGiver Partnership blog.

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.

For further reading:
Malnutrition in the Elderly
Nutrition For The Aging: Overview of How Needs Change as We Age
Elderly Nutrition and Concerns
Malnutrition Problems with the Elderly
Changing Nutritional Needs as You Age

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