A vital aspect to keeping your health on the right track as you age would be to maintain a healthy weight. Hence, many health professionals warn against obesity in one’s mature stages. Conversely, is it normal to lose weight in your golden years? It depends on the extent of your weight loss, which can be influenced by various weight-loss causes.
What Is Normal Weight Loss for Older Adults?
Natural weight loss over time in the elderly in small amounts is caused by the natural decline in the body’s level of muscle, fat, and water. Usually, an average adult’s weight peaks at 60 years old, before slowly decreasing in intervals of less than half a pound per year after 70 years old. Hence, small and gradual weight loss is usually harmless and nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if you’re experiencing unusual weight loss, it can be dangerous to disregard it as a common part of the aging process. One particularly common issue the elderly face is sudden, unintentional weight loss.
Sudden Weight Loss in the Elderly
Unintentional or involuntary weight loss affects about 13% of US adults, making it a serious health issue plaguing the elderly. While weight loss may seem harmless at first, the truth of the matter is that an elderly person losing 5% of their body weight within a month, or 10% over six months, leads to them experiencing 4.6 more risks of mortality within a year. Sudden, unintentional weight loss can also bring other serious health consequences for older adult patients, such as an inability to independently execute activities of daily living, chronic fatigue, a higher risk of fall injuries, infections, and more.
What Causes Unintentional Weight Loss?
Sudden weight loss in older adults is a warning sign hinting toward underlying health conditions you may not be aware of. Such conditions can even be terminal illnesses such as a form of cancer, hence stressing the importance of seeking professional advice when faced with sudden weight loss as an elderly person.
Some other conditions that unintentional weight loss can point to would be Alzheimer’s disease (changes in eating habits), gastrointestinal issues (associated with malnutrition), hyperthyroidism (fastens the body’s metabolism), and depression (associated with loss of appetite). As a result, these conditions can complicate further, causing severe health problems such as the following to develop as well:
- Heart failure
- Chronic pain
- Chronic fatigue
Tracking Weight Loss in the Elderly
Early detection is key to solving unintentional weight loss and the health issues that it implies. In some cases such as cancer, it could even be life-saving to have you or an elderly loved one visit a medical facility at the first red flag you notice. Furthermore, it would be useful to track weight and eating habits regularly.
At retirement communities such as Discovery Village At Boynton Beach, our senior living health programs encourage regular activities to improve overall wellness and manage resident health details, taking health-related organizing off your hands. To learn more about how we can support you or a loved one in a health and wellness journey, take a look at our senior living options.