There are a number of causes of malnutrition in the elderly, which is a serious health problem for a number of older people. Though the direct cause of malnutrition is an inadequate diet, lacking in required nutrients, the indirect causes of this inadequate diet are more complex. One of the leading causes of malnutrition in the elderly is an illness that can cause an individual to lose his or her appetite, or make it very difficult to chew and swallow food. A loss of income may also make it difficult to purchase the amount of food that is required for a healthy diet, and a lack of energy or mobility can make it more difficult to get to get out to the store regularly.
As a general rule, health issues are the leading causes of malnutrition in the elderly. There are a number of potential illnesses or medical conditions that can make cause an individual to lose his or her appetite, or lose the energy to shop for and prepare food. Many of these medical problems can also make it difficult or impossible to chew food, which further limits the diet, and makes it a lot more difficult to get adequate nutrition. Elderly people may also have trouble with sight or hearing, as well as loss of mobility, all of which also make it harder to shop for food and then cook it later.
Aside from health issues, monetary troubles are another leading cause of malnutrition in the elderly. Many people find that their income drops sharply once they retire, particularly if they have other expensive bills such as medical bills or regular prescription medication. This loss of income can make it difficult to purchase food that is not cheap and low in quality, making it more of a challenge to meet nutritional needs. In addition to these causes, changes in lifestyle can also contribute to malnutrition in the elderly.
Many older people live alone and experience feelings of isolation and depression, which make it less likely that they will want to prepare meals for themselves. Those who live alone are further challenged by the fact that it is often more complicated to shop for and prepare meals for just one person. Others may be placed on limited or restricted diets by their doctors in order to treat health conditions, but may not understand how to prepare nutritious food while avoiding certain ingredients, so they will not eat much at all. There are a number of factors that combine to contribute to malnutrition in the elderly, and it is important for caregivers and relatives to look for and recognize the signs, such as weight loss. It is important to take steps as soon as possible to assist older people in getting adequate nutrition every day.