Defeat Weight Loss In Illinois What Age

Weight loss in old age: Healthy weight gain

When older people lose weight, there can be several causes. Read here what leads to reduced food intake and what can be done about it.

Short version:

  • Diet is more than just the supply of energy and nutrients, it should also be enjoyment.
  • For the elderly, everyday things like eating regularly can become a problem. The result is unwanted weight loss.
  • A healthy and balanced diet is also important for older people and requires special attention.

Metabolism changes over the course of life. Some nutrients are poorly absorbed and processed by the body, which can lead to deficiencies more quickly. It is therefore important that the diet is adapted to the needs of the elderly. The energy requirement decreases with age, but the nutritional requirement remains almost unchanged. For this reason, foods with a high nutrient density should be consumed, for example foods rich in starch and fiber such as whole grain products, vegetables, fruit and dairy products.

++ More on the topic: Nutrition in old age ++

Reasons for weight loss

The causes of unwanted weight loss in older people range from chronic illnesses to dementia or psychological problems to physical causes such as missing teeth or an altered sense of smell and taste. Malnutrition should be recognized and treated as early as possible. The measures range from general measures to the prescription of drinking and additional food to artificial nutrition.

The following circumstances or illnesses can lead to decreased food intake:

  • missing teeth
  • poorly fitting dentures
  • Odor and taste disorders
  • Side effects of medication

The most common causes include swallowing disorders after illnesses such as Parkinson's disease or a stroke, but also diarrhea. Furthermore, chronic diseases such as COPD and heart failure can also be behind weight loss. Mental illnesses such as depression can also lead to decreased food intake. With Alzheimer's and dementia it can happen that the patient forgets to eat.

Many older people fail because of the adequate procurement and / or preparation of food. Socio-economic factors such as poverty or loneliness can also play a role.

Often no clear reason for the weight loss can be found because many factors interact. If weight loss is unexplained, a detailed medical and social history and physical examination should be performed.

Undernourishment and malnutrition

Malnutrition results from a prolonged, insufficient supply of energy and nutrients. The metabolism uses its own body reserves (fat mass and muscle mass) to provide energy. The result is underweight. Malnutrition is characterized by disease-associated unwanted weight loss (more than 10 percent of body weight in six months) and / or protein deficiency with reduced muscle mass.

Easily recognizable signs of malnutrition are: severely reduced food intake, clothes that are suddenly too large and a belt that has to be tightened more and more. Regular weight monitoring by relatives or caregivers is recommended in older people who are suspected of losing weight.

Therapeutic measures

There are a number of sensible, established and early therapy measures that aim to increase the supply of energy and nutrients and thus improve the nutritional status and quality of life of the patient. Because it is often very difficult to regain lost body weight, early nutritional care is particularly important.

General measures

In order to stop progressive weight loss, the patient's caring environment must be sensitized. In addition to the quality of the food, security, time and enjoyment also play an important role. Older people often need care and support from a specific contact person.

In order to make the patient want to eat a healthy and balanced diet again, a few things should be observed:

  • Since the appetite decreases with age and the stomach's elasticity also decreases, several small, appetizing meals should be offered throughout the day. Three main meals and two snacks are ideal
  • Meals should be presented in an appetizing way. Mashed dishes can also be made more attractive when arranged accordingly.
  • Individual food preferences should be taken into account.
  • Drinking and supplementary food can provide the necessary calorie intake for older people.
  • Enriching meals with energy sources, such as the powdered carbohydrate maltodextrin or special protein concentrates, can lead to an increase in the amount of energy consumed daily.
  • Shopping together and a targeted selection of foods can also help.
  • When preparing food, hard, dry components should be removed; if necessary, flavor enhancers can be used. Instead of salt, herbs and exotic spices can give the food a more intense taste.
  • Meals together in a pleasant atmosphere can also whet the appetite.
  • The patient should always be given sufficient time to eat.
  • Food-induced problems such as nausea, dysphagia, abdominal pain, etc. should be treated.
  • Due to the decreased feeling of thirst, adequate fluid intake can be problematic in the elderly. At least 1.5 liters of water, herbal or fruit teas should be drunk.
  • Oral hygiene and exercise also play an important role. Those who do more exercise stimulate the appetite and can counteract muscle breakdown. A high percentage of muscle also lowers the risk of osteoporosis and prevents injuries.

This is how a natural energy enrichment succeeds:

  • Use oils when preparing the food
  • Sprinkle grated nuts or cocoa in the yogurt
  • Increase the energy content of milkshakes and yoghurts with nut butter or cream
  • Spread butter on the bread
  • Offer high-calorie drinking food

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Additional nutrition

If all of the measures mentioned do not lead to a successful therapy, additional artificial nutrition must be considered. Food can be administered intravenously or by tube. Both variants represent medical measures that require the consent of the person concerned.

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Silke Brenner
Medical review:
OA Prof. Dr. Thomas Fr├╝hwald
Editorial editing:
Tanja Unterberger, Bakk. phil.

Updated on:

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