Older adults may be safe at home, but if they are experiencing feelings of isolation, lack of physical and mentally-stimulating activities and a decline in proper eating habits, they will be at a higher risk of developing serious health issues. Geriatric failure to thrive is a serious issue that many older Americans face. According to the Institute of Medicine, failure to thrive symptoms include:

  • Weight loss of more than 5%
  • Poor nutrition or eating habits
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inertia or lack of exercise or activities

Recognizing the signs of “failure to thrive” can help family members and loved ones make a concentrated effort to help improve their loved one’s overall quality of life.

Depression. Many depressed seniors are reluctant to talk about their feelings or ask for help. To help recognize the signs of depression, note the person’s moods and ask how she’s feeling. Is she connecting with friends or involved in social organizations? Has she maintained an interest in hobbies and daily activities? Note that being sad because of a loss is normal. Depression continues regardless of circumstances, and is much more serious than occasional sadness. Oftentimes the depressed person cannot verbalize what causes the constant sadness, but depression is an overwhelming, ongoing sadness that is not affected by daily activities that could bring joy.

Weight Loss/Decreased Appetite. Losing weight without trying could be a sign of an underlying health condition. It could also be related to an easily resolved situation such as difficulty grasping cooking tools, loneliness at mealtimes or getting to the store regularly.

Inactivity/Failure to Keep up Daily Routines. Pay attention to the person’s appearance, such as noticing if her clothes are clean and she appears to be taking care of herself. Also pay attention to the home to see if it appears to be taken care of. Are the lights working? Is the bathroom clean?

If you notice these symptoms in an older loved one, contact his or her physician for a full evaluation. Additionally, the care experts at Live Free Home Health Care can help keep your loved one active and engaged while also ensuring he or she has a balanced diet, all of which can help stave off failure to thrive. Contact us to learn more about how our services can help your loved one remain healthy and independent at home.