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 for sudden weight loss. In addition to fever, monitor your parent for changes in the pattern of urination, blood in the urine or stool, complaints of pain or facial grimacing, and a 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 for sudden weight loss in seniors.
Performing daily tasks while simultaneously managing the symptoms of a serious illness can be challenging for seniors. The Fort Worth 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 a 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 develop. 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. If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Fort Worth seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.
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 are causing weight changes and prescribe a different medicine that is 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 floors, 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 behaviors are recognized 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. Fort Worth families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place. To hire a professionally trained caregiver for your aging parent, call Home Care Assistance at (817) 720-5556 today.