There are many reasons why some seniors are not getting the proper food in the proper portions. Limited mobility makes it difficult to prepare food, and many are dependent on others to do their grocery shopping. Cognitive limitations can greatly impair eating behaviors. Some seniors simply forget to eat, or are unable to have a meal without the help of a caregiver. Anxiety and depression are common among older adults, and can lead to loss of appetite.
Malnourished seniors suffer from a much higher risk of poor health outcomes. While we arguably need a more determined national response to address malnutrition among older Americans, the solution to this problem can start at home with caregivers, family and loved ones.
If you have a senior in your life who is living alone, consider making an effort to ask them about their meals and eating habits. When I worked as a caregiver for seniors, I could learn a lot about a client's nutrition by taking a peek in their fridge. Too often, the fridge was nearly empty or much of the food was expired.
Our ability to have and prepare food is something we take for granted in our daily lives, but this very basic human need can become a source of anxiety and pain for our aging loved ones. We can help by keeping this in mind. Check the fridge and the pantry, buy groceries, bring meals that have already been prepared with clearly marked expiration dates. Together, we can make a difference in fighting senior malnutrition.