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Family Caregivers can Support Good Nutrition in Seniors

A senior’s nutritional level can greatly impact their overall physical and mental health. However malnutrition is on the rise, threatening the health and wellbeing of many seniors. It’s important for family caregivers of seniors to recognize the signs of malnutrition in seniors.

What is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition, or under-nutrition, is a condition in which a person doesn’t take in enough nutrients to meet their body’s health needs. The body needs certain amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fat, calories, vitamins and minerals to heal wounds, for energy, to thrive and to survive.

If a senior doesn’t take in enough nutrients, they may become more frail and develop a range of health conditions. Malnutrition affects the immune system, and they become more susceptible to infections and disease. They also experience more weakness, a higher risk for falls, fractures, hospitalizations and death.

What Contributes to Malnutrition?

A number of things contribute to malnutrition in seniors, including:

  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Problems with painful or missing teeth
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Mobility issues interfere with shopping, cooking or eating
  • Illness and chronic disease
  • Loneliness, depression
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol misuse

Signs of Malnutrition in Seniors

Signs of malnutrition in seniors can be easy to miss, because sometimes they happen so gradually over a long period of time.

Signs of malnutrition may include:

  • A body mass index (BMI) of under 18.5
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Clothing is too big
  • Rings become loose or fall off
  • Dentures become loose
  • Poor appetite or disinterest in eating and drinking
  • Fatigue or mood changes
  • Weakness

Family caregivers should watch for possible signs of malnutrition, weigh the senior weekly, and observe their eating habits for changes or concerns.

How Family Caregivers Can Support Good Nutrition

First and foremost, involve the senior’s doctor if you have any concern about their nutritional status. The doctor may recommend a consultation with a registered dietician, or other interventions. If there is any sign of tooth or denture trouble, schedule a trip to the dentist.

Many seniors find better nutrition when they:

  • Eating small meals 5-6 times per day, rather than 3 larger meals, which may be overwhelming.
  • Drink nutrient-rich fluids, such as whole milk, soup or supplement drinks. (Supplement drinks should be taken after eating a meal, not before, so they don’t get full before they eat.)
  • Focus on high calorie, high-protein foods such as cheese, peanut butter and greek yogurt.
  • Ensure foods that the senior likes are readily available.
  • Make mealtime social.
  • Get regular activity.

How Home Care can Help Support Good Nutrition

Family caregivers often turn to home care agencies for support with a senior’s nutrition. Home care aides can help with grocery shopping or meal preparation, which can make a big difference in having healthy, nutrient-rich appealing food available.

Home care aides can offer reminders or encouragement to eat and drink throughout the day. Home care aides can spend meal time with seniors, which can increase their intake and social interaction.

Home care aides can also help a senior stay active, which can promote a healthy appetite. Some seniors have their home care aides help them grow fresh garden greens and veggies, and then help them cook them up fresh. Holistic approaches like these can be very valuable for improving a senior’s nutrition, health and wellbeing.


If you or an aging loved one is considering caregivers in Center Hill, FL, please contact the caring staff at Golden Heart Senior Care of Clermont today. 1-888-423-4046.

Is Low Blood Pressure Something to Be Concerned About?

Low blood pressure sounds like something that isn’t really a problem, but if blood pressure falls too low, it can definitely be a problem. Learning as much as possible about low blood pressure may be a good idea, especially if your senior’s blood pressure readings have been off the mark a bit.

Low Blood Pressure Defined

Low blood pressure sounds like it refers to blood pressure that is simply lower than normal, but it’s more complicated than that. The accepted norm for blood pressure is a measurement of 120 for the systolic, or upper, measurement and 80 for the diastolic measurement. Measurements higher than this are considered high blood pressure and can be dangerous long-term. Low blood pressure is typically diagnosed when the systolic measurement is lower than 90 and the diastolic reading is less than 60.

Low Blood Pressure Symptoms

If your elderly family member is experiencing low blood pressure she’s likely to be lightheaded or dizzy, especially when she stands after sitting or lying down. There are other possible problems, though. She may have trouble staying on task or she may experience periods of nausea. She may also mention that she feels cold all the time, particularly in her extremities. These are usually mild symptoms. More serious symptoms could include fainting or shallow breathing.

Possible Causes of Low Blood Pressure

Your senior’s cardiovascular health is a very important part of her issues with low blood pressure, but there may be other health issues that contribute. Dehydration can contribute to low blood pressure, so it may be important to pay closer attention to how well and how often your senior is hydrating. There are other possible causes for low blood pressure that your senior’s doctor can narrow down.

Treatment for Low Blood Pressure

Treating low blood pressure depends a great deal on what’s causing the problem in the first place. Increasing fluid intake, salt intake, and generally paying closer attention to her diet might be among the first steps. If there’s an underlying health issue, then treating that can resolve the issues she’s experiencing with low blood pressure. That may mean medications and other therapies recommended by your senior’s doctor.

As your elderly family member starts to deal with low blood pressure and how it impacts her life, she may find that having help from a caregiver is a good idea. This can also give you a measure of peace of mind.

If you or an aging loved one is considering caregivers in Center Hill, FL, please contact the caring staff at Golden Heart Senior Care of Clermont today. 1-888-423-4046.