Weight Loss in the Elderly

According to WebMD, it is typical to lose up to a half a pound of body weight per year after the age of 65. A number of factors, including shrinking muscle mass, account for this normal part of aging. Those with terminal illness may experience wasting syndrome (Cachexia); however, in nearly 25% of older adults the reason for this loss in weight is unexplained. 

It is important to note that any sudden or significant unintentional weight loss can be a sign of an underlying condition. A physical evaluation should be conducted to determine if a medical diagnosis is the root cause. The American Academy of Family Physicians cites that weight loss in older adults is considered a problem when there’s a loss of more than 5% in body weight within a six month period.

When caring for an aging loved one, it is important to understand a senior's nutritional needs, support their physical health and be mindful of changes in overall physical health in order to stave off negative consequences.

Unintentional Weight Loss in Seniors Can Lead to Serious Consequences

  • Loss of ability to perform activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and grooming
  • Increased risk of hip fracture
  • Increased risk of hospitalization
  • Increased risk of infection and bed sores
  • Failure to respond to medical treatment
  • Increased morbidity and mortality

For more information on sudden or unexplained weight loss in seniors, and for tips and advice on helping a senior maintain weight to improve their health, we offer expert articles and an online community for caregivers.

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