Unintentional weight loss in seniors is a serious matter and can lead to infection, depression and even death, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Whether your senior family member's weight loss is due to a disability or chronic disease, you should help improve his or her nutrition. Here are five tips for preventing unintentional weight loss in seniors:
1. Add spices and color to food
If your senior family member has lost his sense of taste, he may not get excited about eating. The National Institute on Aging suggests adding color and spices to your senior family member's food. For instance, you can incorporate some hot pepper, mustard or sage in your loved one's next meal; they can make the food taste more flavorful.
2. Consider supplements
Is your loved one's diet not providing him or her enough nutrients? If it isn't, nutritional supplements may do your family member some good. These supplements can nourish your loved one's body and prevent malnutrition. Ask your family member's doctor what supplements would be most appropriate.
"Supplements can nourish your loved one's body and prevent malnutrition."
3. Exercise with your loved one
Physical activity can improve appetite, so encourage your senior family member to exercise a few times a week. For example, you can go for a walk with him or her around the park or take an aerobics class at the gym. Regular exercise will also improve bone strength and boost your loved one's immune system.
4. Prepare snacks
If your family member doesn't seem to be consuming enough calories during meal times, prepare healthy snacks for him. Nutritious snacks will help your loved one get the calories he needs. For example, vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, are packed with vitamins and minerals your family member needs to thrive. Almonds, fresh fruit and boiled eggs are other great snacks your loved one will enjoy.
5. Check medications
If your senior family member takes medication that causes swallowing difficulties, nausea or dry mouth, it can negatively affect his or her appetite. Have your loved one's doctor reevaluate these medications to see if adjustments can be made.
If your senior family member is still losing weight, talk to his or her physician about different solutions.