Maintaining a healthy weight is important for people of all ages. Older adults have specific challenges in this area. Some struggle with being underweight, while others may want to reduce because they are overweight or obese.
With aging comes changes with your body, your metabolism, and the things that you need to continue to remain healthy. You may notice that food does not taste or smell the way that it did in the past. Food or beverage choices may become limited due to medications that you have to take. If you are living alone, it may feel like too much of a chore to cook for only yourself. These issues can lead to becoming underweight.
Eating right and getting enough physical activity and exercise are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and maintaining an optimal weight. Eating right and exercising can also help ward off certain types of illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease, and help keep your bone and muscle strength intact.
Also, as people age, they may have to eat less than they did when they were younger to maintain a healthy weight. This can be a challenge to older adults who are used to eating a certain way, and consuming specific foods and quantities throughout their lifetime.
How is healthy weight determined? Most often through a measure called body mass index (BMI). The normal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9. Ask your doctor or nurse practitioner about your BMI and if you are at a healthy weight for your height. If not, they can work with you on methods to try to either gain weight (if you do not weigh enough) or lose weight (if you are overweight or obese).
Intentional weight loss in older adults has to be managed carefully, so that essential muscle mass is maintained. Specific strategies, such as regular, ongoing resistance training and nutrition supervision can increase fat loss and decrease the amount of muscle tissue weight loss. These strategies can also enhance your mood and give you more energy!
For questions about healthy living, nutrition, exercise, and managing stress, contact your health care provider or R.A.I.N. For more information, contact Jeffrey Lucas@ 347-202-8805.
CDC. (2015). Healthy weight. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html
NIH, NIDDKD. Health Tips for Older Adults. Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-ti...
Gill, L., Bartels, S., & Batsis, J. (2015). Weight management in older adults. Current Obesity Reports, 4(3), 379-388.
This article was written as part of the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) and was previously published in the Bronx Times.