We often think of our weight as indicators of how healthy we are. “I need to lose ten pounds,” or “my daughter’s so thin, she needs to stop starving herself.” These are very real issues that we are faced with often, but we need to realize that weight issues are important health indicators among our seniors, as well.
Weight Loss: Unintentional weight loss is common among older adults, and many times is associated with an underlying illness. But, one in four cases of unintentional weight loss have no underlying illness. The treatment is usually to give the senior a high energy/protein supplement. This should be after a complete physical has been scheduled. Sometimes the weight loss is brought about by depression or social problems such as poverty and isolation, or from gastrointestinal illnesses. There are some cases in which the senior has anorexia as a side effect of a medication they have been given. Once the cause is determined, a dietitian can help with the proper program to follow.
Obesity: The prevalence of obesity in the United States is increasing among all age groups including seniors – age 65 and older. Older adults who are either overweight or obese have the same health risks as the rest of the population, and an increased health risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
There are several reasons for obesity among seniors. Some of them have been overweight or obese their whole lives, and are just carrying the extra pounds with them as they age. But, the primary reason for weight gain is a decrease in caloric needs and physical activity, reduced growth hormone and testosterone levels, poor nutrition, medications, hypothyroid disorders, and lower metabolic rate.
While we immediately think of a weight loss program as the only healthy option, it really is not that cut and dry for our elders. Weight loss can lead to additional lean muscle loss and decreased physical strength. It is absolutely true that losing weight can certainly benefit older adults who are obese or overweight. Experts say it must be done safely and methodically. Incorporating exercise in their regime is vital so that muscle loss can be prevented.
The Kabb Law Firm is your advocate. We can help. 216-991-KABB (5222)