Malnourishment is a serious health problem in the aging population. According to a report from WebMD, more than half of all Americans aged 65-and-over seen at emergency departments are either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. Reasons given for this troubling phenomenon include dental problems, depression and difficulty getting groceries.

If you’re looking after for an aging in place elderly parent this news can certainly keep you up at night. Here’s how to ensure that an elderly parent stays well nourished even when you’re not there.

Health Problems Linked to Malnutrition

Malnutrition is caused by either eating too little food or eating foods that lack enough essential nutrients. Although that sounds simple, malnutrition in the elderly typically results from a combination of social, physical and psychological factors.

Once a senior becomes malnourished, they can experience these health problems:

  • Slow wound healing
  • Memory loss (Vitamin B12 deficiency)
  • Weakened immune system, which increases the risk for infection
  • Muscle weakness and reduced bone mass, making falls and fractures more likely
  • Higher risk for hospitalizations and even death

To make matters even worse, nutritional deficiencies oftentimes get misdiagnosed because they can mimic other health problems commonly seen in the elderly.

Keeping an Aging Parent Well Nourished

Here are ways to help ensure that your elderly parent is eating a healthier, nutrient-rich diet and staying well nourished:

Monitor Their Weight

Keep a weekly log to monitor your parent’s weight at home. Look for signs that they are losing weight, like a frail, gaunt appearance or when their clothes fit too loose. If you live far away enlist the help of a neighbor or close friend to check in on mom or dad. When weight loss is a concern consult your loved one’s doctor.

Inspect Their Fridge

Peek inside your parent’s fridge and cabinets to see what they’re eating and don’t be afraid to as