How Malnutrition Affects Health in Seniors

Good nutrition is important during all stages of life, but as your loved one gets older, eating well is even more important. Many seniors lose some of their appetites and can become victims of malnutrition, no matter their income, opportunities, or even their weight. Malnutrition occurs when the body isn’t getting the nutrients, minerals, and fluids it needs to maintain overall health.  If your loved one lives alone, having a professional provide home care assistance services is one way to make sure your loved one is not only eating but also eating well.

A home care assistance team can work with you and your loved one to ensure she has a diet that will keep her healthy and independent. Many people think of diseases and conditions as the only way an elderly loved one may become ill, but malnutrition can either on its own, or combined with other conditions, cause your loved one to become seriously ill.

Here are just a few ways malnutrition can affect someone’s health.

Home Care Assistance Medford MA - How Malnutrition Affects Health in Seniors
Home Care Assistance Medford MA – How Malnutrition Affects Health in Seniors

The immune system

Your loved one’s immune system is responsible for giving her the ability to fight off those germs and infections she comes across in everyday life. When her body doesn’t get enough nutrition, the white blood cell count decreases, making it more difficult for her body to fight off illnesses and heal from the ones she does get. The body’s nutrition influences your loved one’s recovery from injuries since wounds need energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals to heal.


Being malnourished can make it more difficult for your loved one to get around independently. Muscles become weak if they do not receive the nutrients that they need, making walking, bathing, and even getting dressed harder than normal. Your loved one needs plenty of protein, calcium, and vitamin D to help her maintain bone and muscle mass.


When those muscles do not receive the nutrients that they need and are also not used, they stop being able to do the things your loved one needs to do, like climb stairs, carry items and possibly get in and out of the bathtub. While a home care assistance team can help with all of these tasks, your loved one will be much more independent if she can do these on her own.

Brain Power

While you can’t see the effects of being malnourished on the brain, the brain suffers greatly if the body is not receiving the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Nutrient deficiencies may speed up the rate at which your loved one’s brain loses neurons, which can impair her ability to talk clearly, communicate well, and remember important details.


Malnutrition can also affect eyesight. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can increase the risk of vision loss caused by glaucoma, cataracts, and/or macular degeneration.


Having weaker muscles and bones, along with vision problems can increase the risk that your loved one may trip and fall, resulting in serious injury.

Helping your loved one enjoy well-rounded meals and avoid those empty calories can help ensure that she will not become malnourished.

If you or an aging loved one is considering Home Care Assistance Services in Medford MA or the surrounding areas please contact the caring staff at Visiting Nurse & Community Care today. (781) 643-6090