Is Weight Loss Normal for Aging People?

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Is Weight Loss Normal for Aging People

There are many reasons why aging people lose weight. As we age, we lose bone and muscle mass naturally that may affect our weight. At times, the elderly may change their diet and exercise routine and that may promote weight loss. However, if your loved one experiences unexplained, sudden weight loss, it may be due to an underlying issue. Whether they are battling a life-threatening disease or dealing with a chronic or mental illness, it is important to know the cause of unexplained weight loss so that you can support your loved one as they work with their doctor to get better.

Normal Weight Loss in the Elderly

As we age, we lose body mass and bone density. Also, men and women lose weight differently as they age. It is possible that the underlying cause for men is less testosterone produced, while women stop gaining weight when they turn 65.

Therefore, it is normal for us to lose some weight as we age. However, if your loved one loses 5% or more of their body weight every 6-12 months, there may be a cause for concern, and they should speak with their doctor.

Reasons for Weight Loss in the Elderly

There are many reasons why seniors may lose weight. Some of those include:

  • Depression or loneliness
  • Dementia
  • Kidney disease
  • Financial reasons
  • Malnutrition
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Chronic physical illness
  • Side effects of medications

If you suspect that a loved one is experiencing any of these conditions, make sure that they reach out to their doctor. Some very common causes of unexplained weight loss such as cancer, dementia, and depression or loneliness can be ruled out or acted upon very quickly when you partner up with their physician. However, only a doctor should determine if your loved one has these conditions and how to treat them.

When seniors have unintentional weight loss, it can be concerning as it can affect their quality of life. This means that they have a higher chance of getting sick and getting hospitalized, breaking bones, and being less active. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the signs of sudden and unexplained weight loss and react so that your loved one can get help.

Focus on healthy behaviors, to avoid weight loss

How to Avoid Unintentional Weight Loss as We Age

It is crucially important to maintain a healthy diet as we age as it will help us stay healthy and active for a long time, therefore allowing us to live longer. Here are some tips on eating as we age:

  • Get regular exercise every day
  • Prioritize healthy sleep
  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Keep healthy snacks around (nuts, fruit etc.)
  • Eat full fat dairy
  • Eat high protein foods
  • Eat with friends and family
  • Eat frozen fruits and vegetables

What to Do if Your Loved One has Unexplained Weight Loss

Even if they follow all the health tips described above, your loved one may experience unexplained weight loss. If you notice the weight loss, make sure to consult a doctor. They will perform blood tests and examinations needed to determine if there is a medical reason that is causing the weight loss. The doctor may also screen for dementia and depression to rule out these conditions that may contribute to weight loss. At times, your loved one may have a combination of conditions that may be causing the weight loss, so it is important to treat all of them to get better.

Treatment for Unexplained Weight Loss

The treatment of unexplained weight loss in the elderly will depend on the cause of the weight loss. If it is due to a physiological issue, the doctor will treat their overall health until they see improvement.

At times, it is possible that medications can cause some issues with weight loss. Consulting a doctor to voice their concerns is important as they may be able to find alternative medications to help their condition without the side effect of weight loss.

Whether it is a social or a physiological issue they are experiencing, the one thing you can do to help is support them. This will help them avoid isolation, loneliness, and other conditions that may cause unexplained weight loss.

You should also make sure that you are checking their food intake. This will help ensure that they get everything that they need in their diet without overeating. If you are overwhelmed by caring for your loved one yourself, you should seek out support from professionals such as a home health care service. Also, you should always be in regular contact with a medical professional to ensure the well being of your loved one.

Is your loved one in need of non-medical home care? Our professional staff at Assisting Hands can help. We offer 24-hour home care services in Elmhurst, Lombard, IL, and the surrounding areas. Our skilled caregivers and highly trained and certified to provide your loved one with top notch care in their own home. To learn more, call us at (630) 313-6160 to schedule a free consultation.