Maintaining a healthy weight in later life
Being underweight in later life
As you get older, a decrease in appetite as well as a susceptibility to illness can often lead to weight loss.
Being underweight in later life can come with some serious health complications, from increasing the chance of broken bones to weakening your immune system and leaving you more prone to illnesses and infections.
Here are some tips on how to gain weight healthily:
- avoid filling up on foods that are high in saturated fats, such as cakes and biscuits
- increase your calorie intake slowly by eating healthier, calorie dense foods such as avocados, peanut butter, beans and pulses
- stay active to increase your appetite
For underweight older adults, it’s important to seek advice from a GP to ensure there are no underlying medical issues.
Being overweight in later life
While a decrease in appetite as we age can result in weight loss, it’s also possible that a change in circumstance and a shift towards a less active lifestyle can cause weight gain in people who are at the later stages of their life.
Being overweight or obese in later life can be detrimental to your health, hugely increasing your risk of developing serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure as well as many different types of cancers.
Here are some tips on how to lose weight as an older person:
- eat healthy, home-cooked meals and avoid snacking on sugary or fatty foods
- move towards a lower salt diet
- increase your physical activity levels by starting with easy, low impact exercises such as a brisk walk or jog
- join a local weight loss group (such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World) to get the support you need – these are also a great way to improve your social life, too
For more tips on losing weight safely, visit the NHS website.
Remember, always seek medical advice and speak to your GP about the best ways to lose weight safely.
Hydration in older people
The likelihood of suffering with dehydration increases as we age, and some older people may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated.
Ensuring the body is properly hydrated is vital to maintaining good health, as it helps to prevent illness, keep you alert and even boost your mood. Being poorly hydrated can also increase the risk of developing urinary or kidney infections as well as pressure sores and skin conditions.
How to stay hydrated
- You should drink plenty of water throughout the day to ensure your body stays hydrated, aiming for at least 6-8 glasses each day.
- Eat foods with high water content such as cucumbers, tomatoes, apples and oranges.
- Pay attention to your body – if you have dry mouth or are experiencing headaches, make sure you are drinking plenty.