Shedding unwanted pounds is normally a good thing. However, it can be reason for concern if it’s unexpected or something your elderly parent doesn’t need to do. Take a moment to learn about some of the possible reasons your parent is suddenly losing weight.
Medication Side Effects
Medications seniors commonly take may cause food to taste different or decrease the appetite. If your loved one’s sudden weight loss coincides with certain medications your mom or dad started taking recently, talk to the doctor about appropriate adjustments.
Cancer or Other Chronic Health Issues
Pharmacy Times notes cancer is the leading cause of involuntary weight loss in older adults. Other chronic illnesses and conditions, including uncontrolled diabetes and heart disease, can produce similar results. In situations like these, your parent may benefit from treatment adjustments or efforts to better handle a chronic condition.
If you discover your loved one’s weight loss is the result of a disease or chronic health issue, he or she can continue to remain in the comfort of home with the help of a caregiver. Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional 24-hour care. Fort Myers seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
Undiagnosed Health Issues
Seniors sometimes suddenly lose weight if they have medical issues that haven’t yet been diagnosed. Conditions that could be associated with weight loss in seniors include:
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• An overactive thyroid
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Congestive heart failure
Depression is common in seniors, according to the National Institute on Aging. It’s also a mental health issue associated with weight loss, which can happen if mood affects appetite. Seniors with depression are often helped by a combination of medication and various therapies.
If any of your loved one’s issues are related to depression, loneliness, or anxiety, he or she may benefit from professional home care for a few hours a day or a few days a week. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
The emotional and physical impact of social isolation may cause your parent to no longer feel like cooking or being mindful of eating regularly. However, he or she may be reluctant to discuss situations like this. If this is the case, remind your loved one there are ways to remain social and engaged even with physical limitations. Some seniors achieve this goal by:
• Joining senior-specific clubs
• Volunteering or participating in local charities
• Learning new things with like-minded seniors
• Exploring senior-appropriate social interactions online
An elderly person who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia may lose interest in foods they previously enjoyed. Appetite can also change as a dementia-related condition progresses. Weight loss related to dementia may be minimized by:
• Encouraging regular activities throughout the day to increase appetite
• Separating foods on plates to avoid confusion that may discourage eating
• Adding extra seasonings to foods to counteract changes in taste perception
• Serving smaller, nutrient-rich meals if larger meals are too overwhelming
While you may not wish to consider this possibility, substance abuse affects nearly 20 percent of adults 60 and older, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Sudden weight loss is one of the classic symptoms associated with substance abuse, so it’s worth considering if you’re also seeing other possible signs of addiction. Treatment often involves counseling and support from family members and friends.
Needing More Help with Daily Activities
One other possible reason for sudden weight loss in a senior is an inability to prepare meals independently. If this is an issue for your mom or dad, preparing foods in advance, using a local meal delivery service, and making cooking a group activity are possible solutions to consider.
No matter what is causing the weight loss, it may be a good time to look into hiring a professional caregiver to help your loved one stay as healthy as possible while aging in place. In Fort Myers, homecare service agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at (239) 449-4701.