What Can Cause Excess Weight Gain for Your Elderly Loved One?
Weight gain can be depressing for your elderly loved one, particularly if he’s always kept a trim figure in the past. Some of these factors can be to blame.
Decreasing Muscle Mass
As your loved one ages, muscle can break down and fat stores can increase. This is especially true if your loved one is living a very sedentary lifestyle. Even mild exercise can help to combat this problem, though. Work with your loved one’s doctor to determine what type and frequency of exercise are right for him and then start an exercise plan together.
Hormonal and Metabolic Changes
Your loved one’s metabolism and hormonal balance change over time, too. This internal chemistry affects how food is processed once your loved one ingests it. Foods that weren’t a problem for him in his youth may now be foods that his body has difficulty processing, so they wind up producing excess weight.
Eating out More Often
When your loved one eats in a restaurant, he has less control over how the food is prepared. This can mean that he’s eating foods that aren’t as healthy as he would otherwise be eating, even if he opts for seemingly healthy choices. Portion sizes can also be much larger in a restaurant, encouraging overeating.
Choosing Less Healthy Foods
When he’s at home, cooking might not be all that appealing, which is why restaurants and convenience foods are often a much more common choice. The problem is that convenience foods often contain a lot of added salt, sugar, or both and that can lead to lots of excess weight. One way around this problem is to cook for your loved one or to enlist the help of other family members in cooking for your loved one.
Medication Side Effects
Sometimes the medication that your loved one takes, such as corticosteroids or other medications, can have side effects that cause him to gain weight. If that seems to be the problem for your loved one, talk to his doctor to determine whether a change in dosage or another medication can do what your loved one needs without adding extra weight.
Once you have a plan in place to solve your loved one’s weight gain problem, let other family members and his senior care providers know so they can help him stick with his plan.