Work with a doctor to determine elder’s nutrition needs
Weight loss is a marker of frailty. However, it is not a normal part of aging. Dr. Ehrlich stresses that it is critical to find out what is causing the senior’s loss of interest in food. A doctor should conduct a detailed medical evaluation to determine the cause of loss in appetite and weight loss. “There are a variety of treatable conditions that could be the culprit: ulcers, thyroid disease, dementia, depression, even ill-fitting dentures. All are treatable, so rather than immediately turning to a supplement, work with your doctor to address the cause of the problem,” Dr Ehrlich says.
If a caregiver does decide a nutrition drink is right for their elderly loved one, a doctor should still be consulted to determine the type of supplement to use. For example, diabetics must choose a low-sugar product.
Frail elderly have different nutrition requirements
There is a misperception that frail elderly people should adhere to the same low-fat, low-calorie diet that is recommended for the general population. However, Dr. Ehrlich says that for frail elderly who have substantial weight loss, the opposite is true. “I’ll see a 94-year-old person who is losing weight and he is restricting everything, eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet. It would be better to eat a bowl of ice cream, for the caloric intake!”
Elders who have experienced weight loss should eat what they like. And don’t be afraid to incorporate eggs, cheese, peanut butter…even ice cream into the diet. There is no need for low-fat milk or cheese.
Elders often can’t (or don’t want to) eat three large meals a day. Rather, encourage them to have smaller, more frequent meals, including snacks, even before bed.
Think Twice About Giving Elders Nutritional Drinks or Shakes originally appeared on AgingCare.com.