Weight loss in elderly
involuntary weight loss

Weight loss in elderly

It can be hard enough to lose weight when you’re young and healthy, but it’s an even greater challenge when you’re in your golden years. As we age, our metabolism slows down and our bodies tend to hold on to more fat. This can lead to a number of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. In this blog post, we will discuss how to safely and effectively lose weight in your golden years.

Do you lose weight when you get older?

Yes, but in modest amounts over time. According to the medical journal American Family Physician, as you get older, your body’s water, muscle, and fat levels – all of which influence total body weight – tend to drop.

The average weight for a 70-year-old male is about 185 pounds, and it decreases by less than half a pound every year from age 70 onwards. This implies that gradual weight loss is expected, but you should not ignore a significant, clear decrease in weight as part of the natural aging process.

What is sudden weight loss for seniors?

Sudden weight loss in older people is abrupt, unplanned, and inexplicable weight reduction in the elderly. Some 15% to 20% of elders lose their weight suddenly.

Weight loss can be a normal component of aging, but losing a substantial amount of weight in a short period of time might be an indication of an underlying condition. When there is a 5% bodyweight reduction in one month or 10% weight loss over six months, it is defined as abnormal weight loss in older people.

The health consequences of rapid senior weight reduction are often severe:

  • Falls and fractures
  • Impaired physical function
  • Worsened nutrition
  • Depression
  • Increased mortality risk.

How to track weight and nutrition in an older person

involuntary weight loss

Tracking weight:

This is a terrific quick-and-easy way to monitor overall health and nutrition in an older adult.

To track the weight of an older person who lives at home or in assisted-living, I usually recommend checking and recording the weight at least once a month.

You should keep records of the weight checks, preferably in a way that makes it easy to bring the information to the doctor’s office. Some families keep the information in a paper chart, but it’s potentially better to keep it in a shared computer file; see this article on keeping and organizing information for more details.

You can also consider one of the newer “connected” scales. These are devices that can wirelessly connect to a mobile device or even the home’s wifi. The weight record can then be accessed through an app or website.

Tracking nutrition:

Nutrition has a variety of meanings, depending on the context. The goal in geriatrics is often to ensure that an older person gets enough food and protein to keep his or her energy levels up and muscle mass intact. Obviously, there is more to nutrition than meets the eye; it’s also essential that people get all of their vitamin and mineral needs met, as well as a “healthy diet.” There is no universal definition of a “healthy diet,” but it is one that promotes health and well-being while avoiding or treating disease. A Mediterranean-style diet might be beneficial for many individuals.

Causes of unintentional weight loss

activities of daily living

In general, medical professionals consider unintentional weight reduction of 5% – 10% over 1 to 12 months and more particularly a 5% loss in 6 months. This can happen for a variety of reasons in seniors, including the natural aging process. People usually experience muscular wasting, liver and kidney cell loss, and decreased density in bones as they age after 30. Tissue loss, in addition to causing dehydration, reduces the amount of water in the body. Other illnesses that make it more difficult for people over 60 to maintain a healthy weight are associated with aging.

Decreased ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs)

The ability to do ADLs decreases as people age. Trips to the grocery store take longer as adults cease driving. It might be more difficult to prepare a nutritious meal and keep healthy foods on hand. When daily living skills become increasingly complex, stocking the pantry and purchasing groceries may become impossible.

Loneliness and social isolation

Unexplained and unintentional weight reduction in elders may be a sign of loneliness or isolation. Low appetite and unwillingness to cook and prepare meals can contribute to weight loss as a result of feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Social disconnection can also result in depression, which is linked to weight loss.

Mental illness

causes of unintentional weight

Weight reduction is a common symptom of depression and other mental disorders. Weight loss is a typical indication of mood disorders, particularly bipolar disease. Seniors’ weight loss can also indicate substance abuse or alcoholism.


Certain medicines’ adverse effects are a frequent cause of weight reduction among the elderly. Polypharmacy (taking many drugs) has been linked to decreased taste and even anorexia in some studies. Other medication side effects that can contribute to weight loss include altered taste or smell, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting.

Chronic physical illness

Seniors can lose weight as a result of chronic illnesses, such as cancer and dementia. Cancer is the most common cause of unintentional weight loss in seniors, accounting for 24% – 38% of all instances. Dementia can also affect one’s taste and smell senses, reducing appetite. Parkinson’s disease, thyroid problems, uncontrolled diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, and heart disease are other examples of chronic conditions that might cause weight loss.

Telltale symptoms

unexplained weight loss

There are a few indications that suggest unintentional weight reduction. A noticeable difference in appearance is one of them. Others include poor appetite, low energy levels, and thinning hair or skin. Significant body mass reduction can also cause loose-fitting clothing and fragile bones (osteoporosis).

Weight gain strategies for seniors who have lost their appetite: foods rich in calories and protein.

Sugary snacks such as candy bars, ice cream, cakes, cookies, pastries, jams/preserves; high-protein meatloaf with ground beef or turkey; cottage cheese mixed with fruit or chocolate powder; peanut butter sandwiches on white bread (white bread contains more carbs than whole wheat); scrambled eggs made with oil instead of water; and yogurt mixed with honey, fruit, and granola.

Good nutrition is essential for seniors to remain healthy as they age. It can be hard to maintain a healthy weight, particularly if appetite decreases or activities of daily living become more difficult. However, with the right approach, it is possible for seniors to lose weight safely and effectively. By knowing the telltale symptoms of weight loss in elders and understanding how best to address them, we can all help our loved ones stay healthy and happy as they age.


Unfortunately, many physicians frequently turn to high-calorie supplements like Ensure or even prescription appetite stimulants as a first step in treating weight loss.

Even when social concerns and medical issues are resolved, older adults who have been losing weight frequently require extra nutritional help.

This usually entails increasing protein and calories. Because fat is rich in calories, this may be a great method to boost energy intake. Technically, providing “good fat,” such as olive oil, is preferable, but in the short term, I advise individuals to consider whatever fatty foods the older person likes to consume, which might be ice cream or peanut butter.

According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, many older adults may benefit from additional protein, especially if they’re losing muscle. Milk or whey protein has been used in several trials.

Which of the Ensure or Boost alternatives should you consider? You should talk to your father’s doctor further, but my opinion is that such commercial supplements should only be used as a final option. They’re costly and often include a lot of sugar. As a result, if at all possible, it’s preferable to make your own smoothies or give nutrient-dense snacks and protein to your father.

Why it’s important to track weight loss in elderly loved ones

Weight loss is a common problem for the elderly. It can be caused by many different things, including chronic illness and poor nutrition. If left unchecked, it could lead to more serious health issues such as organ failure or even death! Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent weight loss from becoming an issue: Weigh yourself regularly and keep track of your loved one’s weight on a chart. Monitor their eating habits and make sure they are consuming enough calories, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. Encourage them to stay active, even if that means just taking regular walks. And lastly, consult with a doctor if you notice any significant changes in weight or appetite. With a little bit of effort, you can help your loved ones stay healthy and happy well into their golden years.


It can be challenging for some seniors to keep up with changes in their bodies and lifestyles, particularly when they are experiencing pain or illness. But if you notice that your loved one is losing weight, it might be time to take action.

Also Freqnse Question

Is it normal for the elderly to lose weight?

Yes, it is normal for elderly individuals to lose weight. There are many different factors that can contribute to weight loss in seniors, including chronic illness and poor nutrition. If left unchecked, weight loss can lead to more serious health issues such as organ failure or even death!

What is the most common cause of weight loss in the elderly?

The most common cause of weight loss in the elderly is poor nutrition. Many seniors find it difficult to eat enough food to meet their daily calorie needs, which can lead to rapid weight loss. There are many different factors that can contribute to malnutrition in seniors, including illness, medications, and social isolation.

What can I do if my loved one is losing weight?

If you notice that your loved one is losing weight, it might be time to take action. The first step is to talk with a doctor about the possible causes of their weight loss and what can be done to help them gain back some pounds. They may need an evaluation from a nutritionist or dietician as well as regular monitoring by a physician.

Is it normal to lose weight in your 80s?

It is not normal for an 80-year-old to lose weight. If you notice that your loved one has lost more than five percent of their body weight in the past year, it may be time to talk with a doctor about what can be done to help them gain back some pounds. Some possible causes of rapid weight loss include illness, poor nutrition, and medications. There are many different ways to address the issue, so please consult with a healthcare professional for more information.

What is the average weight loss in the elderly?

The average weight loss in elderly people varies depending on their age and health condition. However, most seniors will lose at least some weight as they get older. This is often due to a decrease in muscle mass, an increase in body fat, and a decline in appetite. There are many different ways to address weight loss in elderly people, so please consult with a healthcare professional for more information.

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