Q. The older I get, the less appetite I have. How do I know if I'm eating too little? Living alone, I sometimes forget to eat.
A: Proper nutrition is vital to health aging. Look for these warning signs that you could be headed for trouble, from Home Instead Senior's "Cooking Under Pressure" public education campaign:
Loss of appetite: If you have always been a hearty eater but no longer eat as you used to, it's time to find out why. Underlying illness could be the root cause.
Little to no interest in eating out: If you have always loved eating out at a favorite restaurant but no longer are interested, dig deeper to determine the problem.
Depression: Change in appetite is a classic sign of depression. Be sure to follow up with a physician if you suspect depression may be a problem.
Sudden weight fluctuation: A weight change - losing or gaining 10 pounds in six months - is another sign that something could be amiss.
Expired or spoiled food: Check the refrigerator for expired or spoiled food. You could be saving food until it's no longer safe. Make sure that all food is labeled, with the date, in large letters and numbers.
Skin tone: Observe your skin tone. If you are eating properly, skin should look healthy and well-hydrated.
Lethargy: If you have regularly been active and enjoyed taking walks but suddenly become lethargic, see a doctor. Poor nutrition could be to blame.
Cognitive problems: Seniors who live alone might forget to eat. If you suspect dementia, quick intervention is vital.
More than three medications: Medication can influence both appetite and weight. Check with your doctor to find out if your medications could be the culprit.
A recent illness: Illness or a hospital stay could make you lose interest in eating. Make sure you have reliable help at home.
Support in the way of companionship, and meal preparation and shopping assistance could be just what you need. Contact Home Instead Senior Care to learn more.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead. com.
For more information about seniors and nutrition, log on to www.foodsforseniors.com.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Central Pennsylvania.