Nutritional deficiencies are commonly mistaken as a natural consequence of the aging process. However, malnutrition often contributes to unintentional weight loss in seniors, and it is avoidable. Hunger is not the same as malnutrition, in that people who are malnourished may get plenty to eat, but may lack the nutrients needed for proper health. People who suffer from malnourishment can suffer a vast number of health problems. Determining the factors that contribute to the source of the malnutrition can be challenging with the elderly population. Intervention is necessary, but understanding malnutrition and its source may decode the underlying problems for the health and safety of loved ones.

Malnutrition for the elderly oftentimes leads to fatigue and an increase in digestive, lung, and heart conditions. As the immune system is weakened by the lack of nutrients, the risk of pneumonia and infection strengthens. Over time, since malnutrition lowers the red blood cells (anemia), thus weakening muscle mass, which in turn raises the probability of falls and fractures. Malnutrition may also contribute to depression.

Typically, malnutrition is a result of a long series of events, rather than a response to a single illness. It may be due to chronic illness that inhibits the senior's ability to shop, cook, and take care of themselves. Sometimes the chronic illness is that of a loved one and neglect is self inflicted. In addition, dental problems sometime pose troubles in chewing and swallowing. Many healthy foods can be difficult to eat, thus making it hard to get the necessary nutrients. Another factor to consider is that many medications suppress appetite by changing the way food tastes or can cause nausea. Malabsorption is common in the elderly, which is the change in how food is absorbed by the body. Thus, making it difficult for the elderly to obtain nutrients, even if their eating habits are healthy.

While the physical reasons for malnutrition are evident, the social and psychological causes deserve some merit. With medication costs rising, some elderly may save money on their food bills by cutting healthy choices. Depression can also lead to a loss in appetite, and for the elderly who are dealing with the loss of friends and family, as well as their physical freedoms, depression may be a reality. Malnutrition is a major problem within this population, and while the causes may vary, it is clear that dealing with it is a necessity.

Unfortunately, many common cases of elderly malnutrition occur when the individuals' care givers are not properly monitoring or feeding them. This may occur with a home health aide or a relative, or in a facility such as an assisted living facility, a hospital or a nursing home. When an elderly person is dependent on another to prepare and provide their meals, and that person fails to do so adequately, thereby leading to malnutrition, this is considered abuse. This is especially true when the abuse is being inflicted by paid caregivers. You have trusted that your family will be taken care of, and when you realize that their health is being compromised, serious actions need to be taken.

If you suspect that this might be the case in your situation, then the best thing you can do is to get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will be able to help you through this difficult time in your life, and many lawyers have experience specifically to handle cases like this. Discuss the options with your lawyer and learn how you can stop the abuse for other elderly people. Contact an attorney today and take the power back into your own hands.


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