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Elderly Weight Loss: Facts and Health Risks

Elderly Weight Loss Facts and Health Risks
For the elderly, being fit and healthy all the time is what is more important than wealth. Once you hit your fifty’s, you are much more concerned on how to improve your lifestyle and prevent any serious diseases. This is the reason why you see more elderly people in the gym doing some cardio exercises or in the park doing some Tai Chi or aerobics.

While I am discussing more on how to lose weight in this blog. Today is a little bit different and we will focus more on a body phenomenon that most elderly people are suffering from – unintentional weight loss.

There are many cases of overweight aging individuals that are experiencing sudden weight loss which is completely not normal. If you suffer from similar weight drop and you are aging, maybe it’s time for you to seek immediate medical attention to diagnose the problem. What are the health risks of unintentional weight loss in the elderly? Learn why this condition occurs and what is the right approach if you experience sudden weight loss. I encourage you to read this article, it might just help save your life.

Aging and Weight Loss

The relationship of aging and weight loss is not much of an issue because it happens all the time. Even young adults can experience weight loss without any workout or dieting. However, unintentional and sudden weight loss especially in elderly people is a serious cause for concern.

In general, people aged 65 years and above experience a mild loss of weight and is a significant non-fat mass loss. Progressive and fast weight drop is a sign of many underlying diseases and physicians are well aware of this fact. It is an indication of momentous decline in health, body functions or directly reflecting a significant disease severity. This often results to a higher risk for infection, depression and death.

Quick weight loss can signal different serious conditions which needs to be diagnosed as early as possible. Seniors commonly ignored these health signs and downplayed the notion that they are indeed sick. This is the reason why many elderly individuals suffers serious diseases in a later and deadly stage such as cancers.

There are many factors that can trigger this involuntary weight loss. If you experienced a quick weight drop, it can be caused by the following factors.
  • aging
  • too much medications
  • dementia (memory loss)
  • late-life paranoia
  • cancer
  • depression (emotional issues)
  • oral problems
  • swallowing disorders
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • hyperthyroidism, hyperadrenalism and hypercalcemia
  • malabsorption
  • eating difficulties
  • organ stones
  • infections
  • anorexia nervosa
  • improper diet

Other consequences of unintentional weight loss in elderly includes anemia, decreased cognition, falls, edema, hip fractures, immune dysfunction, muscle loss, osteoporosis and pressure sores.

Based on these causes, physicians concludes it into three major causes of abrupt elderly weight loss – psychosocial, age-related and medically-related causes. This condition is an extensive issue and needs thorough clinical evaluation. This includes the patient’s history and physical examinations which includes simple to complex diagnostic tests.

How common is Weight Loss among Elderly People

According to some reports, weight loss among elderly people progress tremendously. Most elderly patients can manage their weight for a span of 5 to ten years. However, 20% of them experienced unintentional weight loss of about five kilogram or 5% of their usual body weight with less differences on both sexes. The estimate prevalence rises up to 27% in high-risk populations.

Seniors who are experiencing aging, existing medical problems, cognitive impairment, disabilities as well those who are smoking, have low education level and emotional issues such as loss of spouse are all at higher risk of sudden weight loss.

Managing Unintentional Weight Loss

The first thing that should be done is to identify and treat the underlying cause of weight loss. Elderly people suffers weight loss through many means such as improper diet due to less guidance by their relatives or if emotional instabilities are present, make sure that you address that problem by providing care and loving support. Additionally, make sure that you give continuous healthy diet with a support from a dietitian or a social worker. This can help manage the patient’s weight dilemma if the real cause has not yet been identified.

If factors such as poverty, poor quality of living or an existing disease, then it should also be resolve immediately through proper treatments. A physiotherapist can help elderly patients in providing exercise assistance, which helps stimulate their appetite and increase their energy intake and muscle mass.


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