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10 Warning Signs of Poor Senior Nutrition

Pay close attention to warning signs that your senior loved one is not getting proper nutrition.

Find home care near you or your loved one:

So how do you know if your senior's diet fits the bill? These 10 warning signs are red flags that may signal a potential problem:

  1. Loss of appetite: If your senior has always been a hearty eater but no longer eats as he or she used to, it's time to find out why. Underlying illness could be the root cause.
  2. Little to no interest in eating out: If your loved one has always loved eating out at a favorite restaurant but no longer shows interest, dig deeper to determine the problem.
  3. Depression: Change in appetite is a classic sign of depression. Be sure to follow up with a physician if you suspect depression may be a problem.
  4. Sudden weight fluctuation: A weight change -- losing or gaining 10 pounds in six months -- is another sign that something could be amiss.
  5. Expired or spoiled food: Check the refrigerator for expired or spoiled food. Seniors could be saving food until it's no longer safe. Make sure that all food is labeled, with the date, in large letters and numbers.
  6. Skin tone: Observe your senior's skin tone. If she is eating properly, her skin should look healthy and well-hydrated.
  7. Lethargy: If your loved one has regularly been active and enjoyed taking walks but suddenly becomes lethargic, encourage him to see a doctor. Poor nutrition could be to blame.
  8. Cognitive problems: Seniors who live alone might forget to eat. Dementia and cognitive problems can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Quick intervention is vital.
  9. More than three medications: Medication can influence both appetite and weight. Check with your senior's doctor to find out if his medications could be the culprit.
  10. A recent illness: Illness or a hospital stay could make a senior stop eating. Keep tabs on your loved one's recovery, making sure she has reliable help at home.

Explore these pages to learn more:

Need help ensuring your senior is eating well? Visit our Resources page.

Cooking Under Pressure PDF
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Last revised: December 13, 2010

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. December 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Posted by roger lawsin

    I have problem buying and preparing the right food to prepare for my breakfast, lunch and dinner.


    • December 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Posted by Home Instead

      Hi Roger, have you considered in-home care help? Professional caregivers can help with the meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking according to your dietary needs. Here is a link for more information about home care services:


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