Unintentional Weight Loss in the Elderly: Should I Be Concerned?

September 4th, 2018 by John Wilson

The consequences of suddenly losing a lot of weight can be quite severe for seniors, but the most serious of them all is an increase in mortality rates. Studies have shown there is a strong connection between a sudden drop in body weight and an increased risk of health side effects. Muscle wasting occurs most often in the elderly when they lose weight too quickly, which in turn affects their overall health and well-being. Their bodies cannot compensate and they lose muscle mass, their immune system becomes compromised and their health begins to deteriorate rapidly. This is why it’s so important to stay on top of good health practices for those living in assisted care facilities.

Causes of Rapid, Unexpected Weight Loss in the Elderly

It can be challenging to figure out which came first: the medical concerns or the weight loss. Many things can cause weight loss in the elderly and even more factors can make normal weight loss occur faster or in a more drastic manner. A sudden weight loss that is greater than 10 percent of a person’s body weight can often indicate a more serious underlying issue that needs to quickly be addressed. Caregivers need to always be watchful for signs of quick weight loss and communicate often with the health care team and assisted living services.  Rapid weight loss can often be a sign of issues that must be identified and addressed as soon as possible, including:

Illness or Disease

Oftentimes, weight loss coincides with illness and disease. Those with infections, cancer, compromised immune systems, blood related illnesses, hormonal imbalances and other serious health concerns often show signs of sudden, rapid and unexpected weight loss. It will often make their illness worse as well.

Unexplained weight loss may result in a need for assisted living.

Assisted living may be the answer when weight loss is an issue.

Lack of Self Care

When a loved one living at home suddenly starts to lose a lot of weight, it may be an indication their ability to take care of themselves is suffering. If they cannot feed themselves and take care of themselves, it may be time to consider assisted living options in Oklahoma City.

Mental Decline

One of the biggest health concerns facing senior citizens is something most people don’t think about: depression. Depression is a major issue for many people in assisted living facilities. This mental strain can cause a lack of interest in eating, which can lead to rapid weight loss.

Social Issues

The final common issue sudden weight loss might indicate is socialization problems. If they don’t feel connected to others or they feel unloved or unwanted, their desire to eat and take care of themselves can suffer greatly.

The body naturally starts to decline in health and performance as we age, but there are still ways to keep our elderly loved ones happy and healthy. Keeping a close eye on their weight can be one way to help them. According to the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging, caretakers and family members play a leading role in helping elderly individuals maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle as they age.

For help with this and to get the best home care available in the area, contact us at Village at Oakwood and ask about our Oklahoma assisted living services.

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