WEIGHT LOSS IN ADULT: What you need to know

Unintentional weight loss is a common condition among elders. It is often associated with several factors and health deterioration. Many older adults lose weight as they ageing. This could cause for alarm and concern. It is important to seek medical attention for early intervention and early detection of underlying medical issues.

Reasons for Weight Loss

There are several reasons this can occur in old age including the natural aging process. The aging process can result in muscle atrophy, loss of cells in the liver and kidneys, and bones become less dense, reduced body fluid, etc. Sometimes it is hard to notice gradual weight loss in loved ones. However, paying attention to the care, daily activities, food intake, behavioral change, and routine medical checkup will help to discover any health challenges before further declination.

Unintentional Weight Loss

Unintentional weight loss means losing weight without a change in the pattern of eating or otherwise deliberately trying to reduce weight.

Unexplained weight loss in old loved ones can deteriorate the immune system making them vulnerable to infection, loss of body muscle which can result in fatigue, body weakness, inability to perform self-care, falls, etc.

Why do older adults lose weight unintentionally?

Loss of body weight is caused by several factors which when discovered help in the management.

  • Medical factor

Short or long term diseases and illnesses can affect the general health status of an old adult such as

Cancer, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, gastrointestinal disease, a neurological disorder with difficulty in chewing and swallowing; and hormonal imbalances. Older adults can be screened of this condition and report any symptoms felt to ascertain the cause of weight loss.

  • The psychological and social factors

Loneliness and social isolation is a major social factor. When older adult experience loneliness, they spend most of their time alone and see less of loved ones. As a result, they develop some psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety. This can result in loss of appetite, loss of interest in feeding, and self-care. Also, the presence of mental illness such as paranoia about food, and forgetting to eat can contribute to it.

  • Dental disorder

An older adult with teeth or jaw pain, ill-fitting dentures can find it difficult to eat resulting in gradual loss of weight.

  • Poor metabolism

Naturally, metabolism slows down as we age which makes older adults consume less food. However close attention to know the amount of food intake, adequacy of a meal, eating habits, and the pattern will help to know the cause and instigate appropriate measures.

  • Medications: some medications reduce appetite and intake of the meal as it can cause the altering of sense of taste, nausea, and dry mouth

What are the tips for maintaining a healthy weight in older adults?

Although unintended weight loss is common among old age, here are tips in maintaining a healthy weight while aging:

  • Build a strong relationship and sense of belongingness with them, visits them often. Get house help for an old adult if need be.
  • Consumption of foods rich in protein, fiber, more fruit and vegetable
  • Encourage old age eat small meals frequently.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat less of fatty foods, sugar, and empty calories.
  • Adopt regular exercise and routine medical check-ups

Many older adults lose weight as they age, which is not necessarily a good thing. When an older adult loses five percent or more of their weight over a period of six months with no defined cause, this could be a cause for alarm. Notice any weight loss in old loved ones; check-in for a doctor at eDokita. Download our mobile app and have access to 24/7 support from a doctor.

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