It’s unsettling when a family member is losing weight unexpectedly. If the doctor has no medical explanation, perhaps it’s the result of one of these common situations:
Access to food
- Money. Many elders needlessly limit purchases. A review of the budget, or shopping together, may help. If finances are limited, contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find senior dining programs and food banks. Or check out our listing of nutrition programs.
- Shopping. Your parent may have difficulty getting to a grocery store. And difficulty carrying packages. Have your parent try using a wheeled cart. Arrange for rides. Order groceries delivered. Or consider a taxi.
- Cooking. Cooking is physically demanding. Standing. Lifting. Carrying. With arthritis or vision loss, simply opening a package can be difficult. Help prepare meals in advance. Or identify shortcuts, such as precut vegetables.
Appetite and eating
- Flavor. We lose taste and smell as we age. And salt-restricted diets are often bland. Suggest cooking with more herbs and spices.
- Pain. Pain decreases appetite. Eating with others can create a natural distraction. Also check for correctable problems with dentures or teeth.
- Depression. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness commonly reduce appetite. Have your loved one evaluated for depression. Look for ways to reduce isolation, particularly at mealtime.
- Medication. Some medications cause nausea or constipation. Others bring on a depressed mood. Still others reduce taste and smell. Ask the pharmacist about side effects and possible alternative drugs.