Irrespective of gender, age or socio-economic background, obesity is a common issue among people. From children and adults to seniors, anyone can experience obesity at some point in time. While losing weight is possible at an older age, it starts getting difficult with age, just like everything else.
Amongst many other diseases that come with age, obesity is one of them. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), around one-third of the elderly (people aged 65 or above) are obese.
These statistics are enough to indicate the severity of the issue. However, before learning how to treat obesity, it is crucial to look at some plausible factors of obesity in the elderly and understand the complications they bring with them.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is measured by taking the height and weight of an individual. While it is the most used tool to determine obesity in a person, the system fails to cater to older adults in an ideal manner.
Certain restrictions can be identified when using BMI to measure obesity in a senior patient. The issue is the fact that the system fails to take into consideration muscle mass and fat mass individually. With age, the muscle mass tends to decrease and fat mass increases.
Even if a person’s weight is ideal compared to their height, they may still be obese because of the extra fat. Therefore, BMI cannot be considered a perfect measure of obesity.
Another way to determine obesity is to measure waist circumference. While it may be helpful when done along with identifying BMI, it is not the best way to declare someone obese.
Why is Obesity More Complicated in Seniors?
While the above method indicates some restrictions in determining whether a person is overweight or not, there are several other reasons why obesity gets more complicated when it comes to seniors. These factors can be identified as follows:
According to a study, it was recorded that obese seniors tend to have an increased mortality rate. This means that one of the study results showed that obesity is directly proportional to a longer life. This makes the situation even more complicated because while it was a well-researched study, the results showed a paradox, which can confuse people. What needs to be understood here is that there were undoubtedly other factors involved in people’s lives under observation.
Additionally, an explanation for this study was that the people involved in the study who were obese might have reached a stage where they could create resistance against the disease’s negative impact. This is linked to smoking and cancer. For example, an older adult who smokes a lot but is as healthy as you can imagine. This does not mean that smoking is not the cause of cancer, but that a person may be able to establish a resistance to it.
Whether or not the example is good enough to satisfy you, there are still multiple types of research studies that show how obesity is a disease that needs to be dealt with among the elderly and in every other age group for that matter.
Apart from the paradox explained above, the issue is more complicated because of several different diseases that come with age. This is one reason why senior care is no joke, and you should always be vigilant in making decisions when it comes to your aging parents.
Obesity is a serious issue because it gives birth to or increases the intensity of several other diseases. From arthritis to chronic heart diseases, obesity is the cause of most of the health problems that adults face in their last years. In addition to all of the above-listed issues, being overweight can also impact your cognitive skills, making your memory and brain less effective.
One of the last things that we have on our list of complications with obesity issues in the elderly is that extreme weight loss is not the answer to all your problems. Conditions like sarcopenia, which is about muscle mass loss could be associated with severe weight loss issues.
When you fit all these factors in one picture, you will realize why it is vital to deal with obesity in seniors, and that too, with extreme care and cautiousness.
What is the Solution?
While the issue is complicated, the solution lies in being consistent, regular care and motivation. The steps that the elderly at your home need to take to cater to the problem at hand are simple. However, it will require them to make lifestyle changes. For doing so, you will require someone, preferably a caregiver, who could motivate them and support them in the process.
Proper Diet Plan
Every individual requires a specific diet plan with respect to their current health condition. More importantly, the diet plan will not be the same throughout; there will be changes according to the progress that they will make. Hence, seniors must visit their doctor and nutritionist and have a proper diet plan to follow to treat obesity.
There is nop doubt that exercise and diet go hand in hand. It is imperative to understand that no one expects seniors to do rigorous workout or run for hours every day. However, depending on their age and medical condition, they should take part in some exercise regularly. Starting from a 20-30 min walk should be sufficient, and then, as their physician advises, they can increase or decrease the practice, but never stop.
Being informed about obesity is the first step towards your end goal. Now that you have achieved that, it is about time that you decide to prioritize the health of your aging parents. If you are ready to take the next step, wait no more and give us a call at 718-461-9602 or drop an email at [email protected] so that we can take the process forward!