Is Malnutrition or Dehydration Impacting Your Health?

— Written By

Information provided by Katelyn Mayberry, graduate student/dietetic intern, Lenoir-Rhyne Dietetic Internship Program. 

Malnutrition chart image

As we age, and our bodies begin to change, staying well-nourished is sometimes the last thing on our minds. However, malnutrition is a serious issue that affects people all over the world – at any age – but especially older adults.

Defining malnutrition

Malnutrition is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.” This means that when the body has too much of a nutrient, too little of a nutrient, or there is a general imbalance between nutrients, this can lead to a person being malnourished.

Warning signs of malnutrition

Malnourished individuals may look “normal” and may not have problems with being underweight. Alert your health care professional if you have any of the warning signs of poor nutrition:

  • Eating poorly
  • Chewing and swallowing difficulties
  • Taking multiple medicines
  • Unplanned weight loss

Starting conversations with your doctor about your current nutritional status is always a good step in the right direction…especially before problems arise!

Tips for preventing dehydration – another major concern for older adults:

Beverage chart image

Available at ChooseMyPlate.gov

Local resources for older adults:

Gaston Adult Services, a division of Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services, can assist you in finding resources to best meet your individual needs, including, but not limited to:

  • adult nutrition programs (Meals on Wheels and congregate meals)
  • transportation (Access)
  • supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP benefits)
  • adult daycare