Weight Gain Tips for Older People
As we grow older, the need to care for our bodies becomes more apparent with each passing year. It takes us a little bit longer to get out of our chairs. Aches and pains take longer to go away, and our bodies, in general, become more vulnerable to illness and injury alike.
Another issue affecting older people is malnourishment. This can lead to an increased risk of falling, illness, longer recovery times and even death.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy body weight is very important, and there are simple steps you can take to increase your weight and ensure you are receiving all the nutrients that your body needs.
Health risks of being underweight as an older person
Being underweight can increase your risk of infection and lead to problems like fractures if you fall and muscle wasting.
Causes of being underweight
It’s always worth trying to get to the root cause of the problem.
Many medical conditions can cause weight loss, including:
• Eating disorders – such as anorexia nervosa
• Thyroid problems – an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) boosts metabolism
• Celiac disease – a gluten-related disorder affecting your digestive system
If you are losing weight suddenly and unsure why, contact your GP immediately for advice. There may be a serious cause.
Other reasons someone might lose weight
Older adults may struggle to eat enough for several reasons:
• Lack of exercise which suppresses the metabolism
• Hormonal changes
• Medication might cause nausea or decrease appetite
• Financial concerns, i.e., the rising costs of ingredients and energy
• Loss of appetite
• Concerns about weight gain
• Poor mental health
• Dental issues or poor swallowing can also lead to issues with eating
5 weight gain tips for older people
Now that we understand more about the risks of being underweight, let’s look at some healthy ways older adults can gradually regain their weight.
Use protein weight gain supplements
Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids, and they help to build up bones and muscles.
Protein weight gain supplements are packed full of protein amino acids, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. These supplements are usually powdered and designed to be mixed with milk or water. One shake usually provides several hundred calories and is a very simple and convenient way to increase your calorie intake.
Have meals ready prepared
Another useful tip for older adults looking to gain weight is to have meals ready prepared. We recommend having a few meals prepared in advance that you can simply heat up and tuck into.
If you do cook, why not cook more than usual and plate up a few meals instead of just one? You can also stock up on healthy ready meals or meals explicitly designed for older people.
Try to find balanced meals with a healthy combination of carbs, fats, proteins, and vegetables.
Try to eat more healthy fats
Healthy fats are important for so many different reasons. They’re vital for brain health and function; they help lubricate the joints and ease inflammation, they help balance hormones, and provide cardiovascular benefits.
For older adults trying to gain weight, healthy fats are beneficial. Whereas carbs and protein provide four calories per gram, one gram of fat provides nine calories, which obviously means that the more you consume, the more calories you take in.
Not all fats are bad for you, and healthy fats like those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, olive oil, oily fish, and whole eggs are not only calorific but also very good for you.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day
If you’re suffering from a loss of appetite and simply can’t eat as much as you could in your younger days, a great way to ensure you’re getting enough calories is to eat smaller meals throughout the day.
Instead of three square meals a day, try to eat five much smaller meals spread out from breakfast until an hour or two before you go to bed.
Make meals more sociable
If you struggle to eat enough on your own, why not make meals more sociable instead?
Try eating regularly with friends and/or family members, or even join a lunch club to make meal times more sociable and enjoyable.
By eating with other people, eating becomes a more enjoyable experience and feels less of a necessity. Not only that, but you can eat and drink at your own pace as you chat and have fun with those around you.
If you have difficulty gaining weight, see your GP, who may refer you to a nutritionist for advice and tips. Don’t forget to check out our Geriatric Resources, where we have bundles of information and support materials to help everyone.