AlzU Blog

Malnutrition in Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease

We all know that good nutrition is important to overall health and wellness for everyone.  But some adults are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition including the elderly population.  Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be even more susceptible to malnutrition than the general population of seniors-due to several factors including: depression causing lack of appetite, impaired senses, problems with eating and drinking resulting from dementia, and more.

Factor Contributing to Loss of Appetite

Restricted diets low in sodium, fat or sugar may contribute to malnutrition.  Certain types of medications can lead to loss of appetite as can some medical conditions.  If your loved one is suffering from a loss of appetite, be sure to report symptoms to his/her physician.
Other factors include: dental problems, sores in the mouth and/or difficulty swallowing (also called dysphasia), ill-fitting dentures, and problems with normal absorption of nutrients (such as gastrointestinal problems). A recent hospitalization can contribute to the loss of appetite and malnutrition as well as diminished smell or taste-which is a normal symptom of aging.

Limited income is another contributing factor in malnutrition in seniors.  Many times limited food budgets can simply result in an overall lack of food ( or a lack of food the senior enjoys eating).

Elderly adults who eat alone frequently are known to develop a lack of appetite as a result of lack of interest in cooking and/or eating alone.

Loss of appetite is a common symptom of depression and grief. 

Another factor to consider is lack of physical activity-which can result in lowering of the appetite. 

Alcoholism is yet another huge factor that can contribute to the lack of adequate nutritional intake (while at the same time interfering with the absorption of certain nutrients).

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