What to Do if Your Elderly Parent Has Rapid Weight Loss

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Evaluating & Treating a Senior's Sudden Weight Loss in Toronto, ON

Sudden weight loss in an elderly individual can indicate one or more factors is causing a decrease in appetite. It’s important to address a rapid decrease in weight because poor nutrition can affect all the body’s systems and make seniors more susceptible to infections and other serious health conditions. If you have an aging loved one who has lost a significant amount of weight in a short time, schedule a medical examination that includes a physical and mental evaluation to find and treat the cause of the weight loss.

Physical Causes

Heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and cancer are leading causes of weight loss in the elderly. Poor circulation causes a decrease in body mass because of the heart’s inability to effectively pump and deliver nutrients to the various parts of the body. Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease cause frequent bouts of diarrhea, which result in a rapid loss of nutrients. In addition, stomach and intestinal ailments can cause nausea and stomach pain that interferes with appetite. Cancer causes weight loss because its cells rob healthy tissues of their nutrients, resulting in malnutrition and decreasing body mass.

If your parent is suddenly losing weight, it’s essential to monitor him or her for unusual symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fever, weakness, jaundice, blood in the stool, or abdominal pain. While these might be symptoms of an easily treatable condition, they may also indicate a more serious issue, such as a pulmonary problem, a blockage in the intestines, or a pancreatic or liver disorder. 

If you discover your loved one’s weight loss is the result of a disease or chronic health issue, he or she can continue to remain in the comfort of home with the help of a caregiver. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of homecare. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

Mental & Emotional Causes

It’s normal for seniors to experience sadness as they go through the aging process, and depression is the primary cause of sudden weight loss in the elderly. The loss of loved ones and lifelong friends as well as decreasing mobility and the inability to fully participate in activities they once enjoyed can also contribute to depression in seniors. Getting involved in activities with other individuals who are also experiencing the same life changes can alleviate depression and foster a sense of camaraderie with other older adults. If depression becomes severe, prescription medication may be necessary.

If any of your loved one’s issues are related to depression, loneliness, or anxiety, he or she may benefit from professional home care for a few hours a day or a few days a week. For families living in Toronto, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.

Treatment

If your loved one continues to lose weight, take him or her to see the doctor for a complete physical examination. The doctor may order diagnostic tests if necessary, and if those tests fail to identify the reason for the sudden weight loss, your loved one may be referred to a specialist such as a gastroenterologist for additional diagnostic testing and treatment. If the physician is able to determine the cause of the weight loss and the underlying condition can be effectively treated, body mass can return. Drinking nutrient-dense shakes along with eating nutritious meals can help seniors regain weight. 

No matter what’s causing your parent’s weight loss, it may be a good time to look into hiring a professional caregiver to help him or her stay as healthy as possible while aging in place. In Toronto, senior care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (416) 488-8777.

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