For most people, food is a relatively simple part of life. You may find it hard to stop yourself from eating too much or too little, but you have a keen awareness of the meals you’ve had throughout the day, and probably know when you’re a little bit naughty. As someone gets older, though, the chemistry in their body loses its balance a little, and an ordinary thing like food can become quite a challenge. There are many factors which can contribute to nutritional neglect in the elderly, but it isn’t something which can go ignored.
The Common Causes
In 2017, more than 1.4 million adults were living in care homes and assisted living facilities across the United States. Of these people, and even including many seniors who live at home, there are staggering numbers of older adults in need of daily care and support. With many of the leading organisations behind services like this working to offer independence to their service users, many of the people receiving regular care are still in charge of their meals. This presents a range of different issues, all of which can lead to nutritional neglect.
Side Effects: As you get older, the probability that you’ll have to rely on some medication to keep yourself healthy will increase. Many of the treatments which are prescribed to patients can have an impact on their appetite, either making them want to overeat, or making it hard for them to eat anything at all.
Memory Issues: There is a range of conditions which impact a human’s memory, and your likelihood of suffering from one of them only increases with age. Someone with dementia will know when they are hungry or full, but may not remember when they had their last meal, and this can lead to a lot of confusion.
Lacking Support: It’s becoming increasingly common to find seniors relying entirely on a microwave to prepare food for themselves. There are only so many combinations of ingredients which can be combined with a machine like this, though, and this can lead to excessive snacking and malnourishment.
Confused Support: Communication can be a real challenge when someone struggles to hear or talk, leaving carers to rely on each other’s notes when they are looking after them. This has obvious shortcomings, and creates a lot of confusion, especially when agency workers who don’t know the service user are thrown into the mix. It’s impossible to give someone food at the right time when you don’t have a good record of when they’ve eaten.
Finding a Solution
Putting undue stress on a body which is already struggling is always a bad idea. It’s not uncommon to find elderly people suffering through substantial changes in their body mass, leaving them vulnerable to seemingly benign elements, like coldness, and even more pressing issues, with a considerable number of deaths being caused by a poor diet. For those with the time to ensure that their elderly relatives are eating a healthy balance of foods, it’s worth committing yourself to this effort.
However, most people don’t have the resources to put this sort of time into looking after someone. You may be able to lend a hand, but providing every meal at the right times is an overwhelming commitment. Using a care home to solve this problem used to be a good option, but many of these places have become overcrowded in recent years, especially in busy counties like Sussex. This is ignoring the fact that they often force older adults to sell their family home to pay for the costs of this sort of treatment.
Live in care can provide a far more stable and fair solution to the nutrition problem. With a dedicated carer spending long stretches with your loved one, you can quickly feel confident that they are eating meals when they should, and not being forced to eat the same things all the time. 24 hour live in care can provide your loved ones with more than just food, though. Along with this, having a professional around will offer companionship, and can help to avoid leaving the service user feeling that they are a burden.
No one likes the idea of someone they care about not getting the food they need, especially when they are getting into their later years. It can be easy to let something like this slip through the nets, though, especially when they don’t have the right sort of care. No one should have to leave a home they love merely to maintain a balanced diet.
For more information contact Orchid Care or give us a call today