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The elderly should be aware of unwanted weight loss

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Millions could be putting their health at risk by thinking it is normal to lose weight as part of ageing. PICTURE: Matthias Zomer

Millions could be putting their health at risk by thinking it is normal to lose weight as part of ageing.

Losing weight can be an early warning sign of malnutrition or another serious condition such as cancer or dementia, the Malnutrition Task Force said. But more than a third of over-60s think it is fine to become slimmer with age and three quarters have never worried about themselves or another person unintentionally losing weight, a poll found.

Weight loss is not a normal part of ageing, the group said. Signs of malnutrition include tiredness, low energy, dizziness and getting repeated infections. Lesley Carter, of the MTF, said: ‘We wrongly assume that malnutrition and dehydration belongs to the past but the reality is that poor nutrition and hydration are often not recognized by older people, families or healthcare professionals.

‘Many may ignore the warning signs, or simply not pay attention when they start to manifest. Rings may fall off, dentures could become loose, or clothes too baggy. Some people may start to find it hard to stand or carry objects, making preparing meals more difficult, or some may just show a general lack of appetite. She added: ‘Even the need to tighten your belt can be a clear indication that a person is not eating enough.’

One in ten over-65s are thought to be malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. For anyone who is struggling with their appetite, MTF recommends eating smaller meals more often and sticking to full-fat dairy foods.

© Daily Mail
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