The 10 Warning Signs
As we age physical changes to our bodies occur which can affect the way we think and feel about food. These changes can prevent us from having access to a healthy diet and can also make us believe we are less hungry, resulting in us eating less. The changes may include:
- Reduced mobility which means shopping for food becomes more difficult or a chore rather than an enjoyable activity.
- Our taste buds are renewed less frequently and our sense of smell reduces meaning an older person's appetite can decline, reducing the intake of food.
- Surgery, illness and medication may all have a direct impact on appetite.
- Changes in our mouth may include producing less saliva and changes to teeth and jaw shape may mean dentures no longer feel comfortable or fit correctly.
- Having long term conditions such as dementia can cause cognitive impairment leading to problems with eating and drinking.
But it isn't just physical changes which affect an older person's attitude to food. Social isolation is a major factor in making seniors feel unmotivated to cook for one or they may lack the cooking skills.
Stressful events such as family issues and bereavement may create a ripple effect and can cause a reduction in appetite.
On top of this, elderly individuals could potentially have lower food budgets leaving them feeling they cannot afford to eat healthily.
The 10 warning signs someone may be affected by poor diet
Depression and emotional wellbeing - Struggling with depression can cause a change in appetite. A level of stress can also affect our appetite. If you suspect someone is depressed or struggling to cope, be sure to raise awareness with their doctor.
Sudden weight fluctuation - A sudden weight change, over the past 6 months is another sign that something could be amiss. Warning signs include ill-fitting clothes and jewellery.
Poor concentration, feeling tired a lot and lacking energy - Tiredness can be a sign that the individual is not getting the essential nutrients for the body to generate enough energy.
Taking a long time to recover from infections - A lack of vitamins and nutrients will slow down the recovery process.
Skin tone and nails - If someone is eating properly, the skin should look bright and well hydrated and nails should be healthy.
Forgetfulness - Seniors who live alone may forget to eat. Dementia and cognitive problems can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Difficulty in keeping warm - With reduced muscle and tissue mass, people become more susceptible to not being able to regulate their temperature.
Persistent bowel problems - Malnutrition can irritate the stomach and the lining of the intestine, causing problems such as constipation, nausea and diarrhoea.
More than three medications - Medication can influence both appetite and weight. Check with the GP if you suspect medications could be the culprit.
Expired or spoiled foods - Check the fridge for use by or best before dates. This will help identify when food is at risk of spoiling and is no longer safe.
If you are feeling under strain and need a helping hand, Home Instead can help. Our CAREGivers can provide help around the house as well as assistance with meal preparation, shopping and errands. Get in contact with us to find out more about the services we provide on 01633 740 028 or Enquire Now!