Learning the Risks, Helping Those in You Care About

Did you know that obesity can affect seniors very differently from the way it affects younger adults? As World Obesity Day approaches, the top medical minds and advocacy groups across the planet will submit new findings, updated statistics and practical solutions for ending the global obesity crisis. Being aware of how obesity impacts seniors and the complications it may produce can help determine the best ways to treat obesity in older adults.

It’s likely that you’ve seen evidence of the senior obesity epidemic with your own aging family members or in their social groups. In 2019, 28.5% of Americans aged 65 and older were obese, an increase of more than 3% compared to six years earlier.

As we all know, obesity can contribute to many diseases, disorders, and concerning medical conditions, no matter your age. In fact, the majority of organs and body systems are negatively affected by obesity.

Most commonly, obesity may bring on hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, dangerous sleep apnea and certain cancers. The increase in people with Type 2 diabetes is of particular concern, as diabetes is a well-known risk factor in heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other serious medical conditions. Physical disability and mobility can also be a major problem due to the effect of weight on excess joints.

In addition to physical limitations and discomforts, obesity has been shown to affect cognition, which includes the way we process information, memory, comprehension, problem solving, and decision-making. These cognitive functions are known to deteriorate with age, and studies show that they deteriorate more rapidly in the population affected by obesity. Since proper cognition helps seniors to live fuller and more independent lives, this effect of obesity is more relevant than ever. Obesity has also been clearly linked to a lesser overall quality of life, which is of particular concern to aging loved ones. Seniors can already be plagued by multiple conditions that decrease their quality of life, and obesity only adds another burden.

Key strategies for decreasing and preventing obesity in seniors target both behaviors and their environment:

  • Regular physical activity, both aerobic and muscle strengthening
  • A healthy diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein
  • A community design or family habits that encourage exercise
  • Access to healthy foods in their neighborhoods or care facilities

When seeking to help an obese aging parent or loved one, professionals recommend that you focus on the person’s health and not their size or weight. Hiring a physician or counselor/dietician can also be helpful. Encouraging activity and setting a good example at home and in the community also goes a long way in making the senior feel good about their healthy choices and not feel as if they are “going it alone.” 

Many home care services also have comprehensive weight loss programs, healthy meal preparation assistance and physical activity ideas and routines tailored to each senior or patient. For help, talk with your loved one’s medical provider or visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you’re seeking a suitable community for your senior loved one, it’s important to consider health factors, such as weight as part of your decision-making process. The Certified Senior Advisors at Oasis Senior Advisors consider many factors, including health, finances, lifestyle and location as they help older adults and their families navigate difficult senior living decisions. Oasis advisors provide a free, personalized, one-on-one service. Give us a call today at (888) 455-5838.