The Long-Term Risks of Malnutrition in Older Adults

In our last blog post, we shared some age-related issues that prevent older adults from eating a healthy diet, but can poor eating also lead to cognitive degeneration? Malnutrition in older adults is a lot more common than many people may realize. The National Resource on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging notes that 35% – 50% of the older adults residing in long-term care facilities are experiencing malnutrition, and up to 65% of hospitalized older adults may be malnourished as well.

Malnourished seniors are twice as likely to need to see a medical professional and three times as likely to be hospitalized. They also experience decreased muscular mass and have a harder time healing than those with better eating habits. Not only that, but new research highlights the role that healthy eating plays in safeguarding against cognitive decline as well. Healthy Aging and Longevity data reveals an unanticipated link between eating behaviors practiced during the adult years and cognitive decline.

To lower the risk of cognitive deterioration, it is recommended that older adults stick with a diet abundant in fish, grains, veggies, and fruits, while reducing hydrogenated fats.

Special Concerns for Diabetes

It is essential for diabetics to be specifically conscious of the foods they eat. In particular, an older individual with diabetes might experience a decline in memory after a meal, especially if that meal consists of carbohydrate-rich foods, sweet, sugary soft drinks, etc. Although the specific reason behind this problem is not completely clear, the spike of insulin in the brain is a probable factor.

Making good nutritional choices for older adults today can help them reduce the risk of cognitive decline later on. Take these proactive steps to boost the nutrition of a senior loved one:

  • Supply healthy food choices for each meal. For instance, replace simple carbohydrates with complex ones like beans, whole grains, green veggies, etc.
  • Keep blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels regulated.
  • Implement an exercise regimen.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and BMI.
  • Request aid from a dietitian.

Contact Harmony Home Health & Hospice at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE to discover more about how we can help a person you love with customized home health care solutions in New Mexico and Utah. For a full list of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.