March is National Nutrition Month, which means it’s a great time to make sure your aging loved one is getting the vital nutrients their body so desperately needs.

Good nutrition is important at any age, but many Americans aged 65-and-over don’t eat enough of the nutrient-rich foods that their bodies need. Malnutrition in the elderly can be caused by lack of appetite, swallowing difficulties, poor mobility and other issues. Aging in place seniors that get malnourished oftentimes end up in the hospital and some lose their independence as a result.

Why Do Seniors Get Malnourished?

The Mayo Clinic identifies malnutrition as a serious health problem in the aging population. They further point out that seniors can get malnourished for these social, physical and psychological reasons:

  • Age-related smell, taste and appetite changes
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Chewing discomfort and swallowing difficulties
  • Certain medications including chemo drugs
  • Mobility issues
  • Depression caused by poor health, grief, or loneliness
  • Limited income

Malnutrition Causes these Health Problems

Seniors that don’t eat a diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals are oftentimes placed at risk for these health problems:

  • Poor wound healing and slower recovery times after surgery
  • Weakened immunity leading to infections and illnesses
  • Muscle weakness and poor balance that can cause falls
  • Decreased bone mass which promotes fractures
  • Being hospitalized and even dying

Turning a Senior’s Nutrition Around

As an informal caregiver, these are several ways to help improve your senior’s diet so that they will take in the daily nutrients their body needs:

Educate Yourself

Learn about which foods are the most beneficial for older bodies. For example, bone loss occurs frequently in the elderly. That means they ne