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Malnutrition in elderly – Symptoms & causes

Our bodies need healthy meals that have nutrients so the body can function well. This is important for the overall health. As we are getting older, it is more important for our bodies to get the nutrients that we need because older adults are not getting enough nutrition. The lack of a healthy diet is causing malnutrition in elderly. But you should know that not just foods and drinks that older people consume cause malnutrition.

There are many causes which can lead to Malnutrition in elderly such as poor wound healing; muscle weakness, leading to falls and fractures; a weak immune system that may increase the chances of infections. If you noticed that your elderly have unexpected weight loss of 5 – 10% in a period of six months, then you should take him or her to the doctor to check if he or she has malnutrition.


Malnutrition in elderly

It can be difficult to diagnose who is suffering from malnutrition, especially if he or she seems that is completely healthy. The most common symptoms of malnutrition in elderly are:

Reduced tissue mass

Reduced muscle mass

Loss of fat

Longer healing times for wounds

Tiredness, fatigue or apathy

If you notice that your older family member has some of the following conditions, then you should try to prevent any further health complication:

Know the side effects of all medications: There are some medications which can cause elderly to lose interest in eating while at the same time, it will disrupt their digestion and ability to absorb nutrients.

Weight loss: You should regularly see your older family members about their weight. You can notice by your eyes. It is very important to know what they consume and if there are any changes in their weight. You should observe if their clothes are fitting or if they seem that they start to feel loose.

Watch the eating habits of elderly: If you are taking care for your older family members, then you should make a habit of eating healthy diet. You should pay attention why they eat. They should eat diet rich in nutrients so in this way they can help their bodies to stay healthy.

Be alert of any other possible health problem: It is known that malnutrition not only affects the weight of elderly but also, it can cause poor wound healing, dental issues and bruising.

If you have noticed that your older family members have some of the mentioned symptoms, then you should take a proper care for him or her. You should visit a doctor which can help to your loved elderly to feel better and to prevent further complications.


There are many older people who can get malnutrition and develop eating disorder as a result of physical, psychological and emotional problems. Below are given some causes which can lead to malnutrition in elderly:

Alcoholism: It is known that consuming too much alcohol can cause problems with the digestive tract and the ability of your body to absorb nutrients.

Depression: It is known fact that the depression can completely transform the behavior of someone who you love and it makes him or her sadder and more anxious. Also, there are some cases when elderly is not willing to get out of bed. This can be a debilitating condition which can cause elderly to lose his or her appetite.

Isolated or withdrawn: If elderly do not have anyone to share a meal with, then he or she can lose the interest in eating or cooking altogether.

Health problems: Health problems, like a chronic illness or dementia, can result in a lack of appetite for aging adults. Also, there are some health problems which can make difficult for seniors to absorb certain nutrients.

Restricted diet: The doctor of elderly can put him or her on a restricted diet due to the limit the amount of fats, salt or sugar they consume. This diet can help them to deal with certain medical condition but the lack of some key nutrients can cause malnutrition to happen.

Low income: It depends on the health situation of elderly, but the most of their money goes for prescriptions and medical bills which is leaving a little for groceries. This is a reason why elderly are more interested in food which is cheap instead of food that is healthy.

Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar
Dr. Ramesh kumar, BAMS is naturopathy doctor who is well versed with health benefits of all fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants


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