Sudden weight loss in an elderly loved one can be a sign of a serious illness. While taking steps to prevent malnutrition and dehydration, you should quickly make an appointment with your loved one’s physician to determine the cause of the weight loss. Here are some things to do if your parent has sudden weight loss.
Watch for Symptoms
Infections, internal bleeding, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can lead to sudden drops in weight. Infections that may cause weight loss in elderly people include urinary tract infections, skin infections, dental infections, and the influenza virus. While these infections are typically accompanied by fever, your loved one may be afebrile. A high fever can speed up the metabolic rate and raise the risk of sudden weight loss.
In addition to fever, monitor your parent for changes in urination patterns, blood in the urine or stool, complaints of pain or facial grimacing, and decreased appetite. Also, be on the lookout for a rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, diarrhea, and bulging eyes, as these can be signs of hyperthyroidism, another potential cause of sudden weight loss in seniors.
Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Rhode Island live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance are available 24/7 to make sure your loved one has the care he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable while aging in place.
Mood disorders such as depression can lead to poor appetite and subsequent weight loss. If your loved one is depressed, sad, lonely, or mourning the loss of a spouse, family member, or close friend, weight loss may occur. If you believe your parent has a mood disorder, make an appointment with a mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment.
Older adults who face difficulty with meal prep are also likely to be underweight. Senior home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Look at Medication Side Effects
Certain medications can cause side effects that affect appetite and weight. For example, medications used in the treatment of hypothyroidism can increase metabolic rate and cause sudden weight loss.
If you believe medications may be responsible for your loved one’s weight loss, visit his or her physician. The physician can evaluate the medications to determine if they’re causing weight changes and prescribe a different medicine that’s less likely to lead to decreased weight.
Check for Pacing
Your loved one may experience sudden weight loss due to anxiety or agitation. Elderly people with these two conditions may also pace the floor, fidget, or become confused when the sun goes down. This is referred to as sundowning, and it may lead to aggressive, confused, or agitated behavior.
If your loved one is unable to sit still because of psychological issues or cognitive deficits, see the doctor. Once these problems are diagnosed and treated, the pacing and fidgeting behaviors may diminish, which will likely slow the weight loss.
There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care. Rhode Island families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place. If you need professional home care for your aging loved one, our Care Managers are just a phone call away. Reach out to Home Care Assistance today at (401) 284-0979.