Older adults are more susceptible to illnesses and diseases, so it is important to keep a close watch on your loved one’s health condition. One symptom to watch out for is unintentional weight loss. Regardless of whether your loved one will benefit from losing weight or not, unintentional weight loss can cause serious medical complications and may be signs of more severe illness. Older adults can become more susceptible to infection and their ability to recover is weakened. They may also be at greater risk of falls and accidents. Read on to find out the possible reasons for unintentional weight loss in older adults and what you can do to help them recover.
Medical Reasons for Unintentional Weight Loss
Unintentional weight loss can occur because of a number of different reasons, including:
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Endocrine disorders
Unintentional weight loss is often a common symptom of older adults with dementia. Dementia causes cognitive decline and memory loss, so older adults who forget to eat meals or whose appetites decline may start to lose weight.
Older adults with gastrointestinal disorders can also experience unintentional weight loss because the digestive system is not functioning properly, leading to poor nutrient absorption.
Endocrine disorders like diabetes and thyroid disorder may result in a lower metabolism, digestion, and slower nutrient absorption.
Unintentional weight loss may also be a sign of cancer, which affects the body in various different ways like causing a loss of appetite or changing the way the body breaks down nutrients.
Social Factors Contributing to Unintentional Weight Loss
Older adults who are not financially secure or who do not have access to food are highly vulnerable to malnutrition and other illnesses. Financial difficulties and mobility issues might mean that some older adults are unable to have proper, nutritious meals, and this causes them to lose weight. Older adults who live in isolation can also become less interested in eating because eating is a highly social behavior.
Unintentional Weight Loss Because of Mental Disorders
Mental disorders like depression and anxiety are associated with losing weight unintentionally. Older adults who are depressed or have anxiety disorders are likely to experience a loss of appetite, which may be caused by isolation, grief, or a combination of physical health conditions and medications prescribed.
Solutions for Unintended Weight Loss
The most important thing to do if you notice that your loved one is experienced unintentional weight loss is to bring them to the hospital as soon as possible. Doctors must determine the cause of the weight loss first in order to prescribe an effective solution. When accompanying your loved one to the hospital, you can give the doctor detailed observations of when it started and how severe it is so that the doctor can evaluate and correctly diagnose the problem. If your loved one has difficulty eating, you should also try to make meals more accessible and appealing. Make sure that your loved ones are having nutritious and balanced diets.