Mary Alexander: Hi! I am Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care.
Amy Cohn: And I'm Amy Cohn, a registered dietitian with General Mills Bell Institute of Health & Nutrition.
Mary Alexander: Today we're in the Betty Crocker Kitchens talking about what can prevent a senior from having good nutrition and what warning signs to look for. As we age, our abilities to taste and smell diminish. Certain medications can affect these senses as well. So your senior loved one might say food doesn't taste like it used to.
As a result, some seniors choose to eat less or not at all, which can result in not getting proper nutrients. Other older adults may have some physical challenges such as dental or swallowing problems or ability to hold or open food containers. These issues can limit our senior's food choices which in turn can limit their nutrition. Other factors can affect their appetites. Some examples include medications, recovering from an illness or surgery, or living with a chronic condition.
Dementia or other cognitive problems can cause seniors to forget to eat. Be unable to prepare food safely or determine if food is spoiled, as a result they can become malnourished. Transportation and budget issues can also prevent seniors from shopping for groceries or getting them home. And lastly, loneliness and grief, can also overwhelm and cause seniors to withdraw from life and from eating. So how do you tell if your senior loved one is suffering from poor nutrition?
Amy Cohn: The first thing to look for is either sudden weight loss or weight gain. You should also do a quick visual health assessment. Look at their color and skin texture, how are their eyes, do they look tired and slacked or are they vibrant? It's also important to make sure your senior loved one stays well hydrated. Some signs of dehydration in the elderly include chronic fatigue and lethargy, as well as confusion, weakness, dizziness and a change in blood pressure when standing. Be sure to keep an eye out for these signs, so you can help if needed.