Should I be worried about my elderly mother losing weight?


The honest answer, as so often happens when working with elders, is: "That depends." Unintentional weight loss (not the result of dieting to lose weight) can be worrisome. It signals a health decline, whether or not the elder has 'weight to spare'. Many factors come into play here, sometimes alone - or in combination. Have you also observed a decline in vision or function, which may affect her ability to prepare a meal? Has she lost some mobility, making it harder to shop for groceries and navigate the kitchen? Has the taste or smell of food changed for her, so that she no longer enjoys her favorite foods? Appetite poor; or does she appear to be eating well, but still looking thinner? When was the last time she saw the dentist? Perhaps mouth pain from ill-fitting dentures, or teeth in need of attention are the issue. Are you also concerned about memory loss? Is she skipping meals because she's forgetting to eat? How about her mood. Do you have reason to suspect she's depressed?

I know I've answered your question with many others, but I'm going to add one more... What's your mother's take on this? Is she concerned about this? As long as she is making decisions for herself, she's the one in the driver's seat. We can express our concern, ask some good questions, make suggestions, and offer assistance; but she's be making her own decisions about care. I'd suggest starting with a visit to her doctor / nurse practioner. Go with her, if at all possible. In that way, you can tell them of your concerns, and hear their recommendations directly. You may still worry, but there are also many more things you can do to help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.