A good body weight is a protective factor in older people. It is better for older people to carry a little extra weight as this will help to see them through illness and times when their appetite is poor. It is important that you keep a watch for residents that are losing weight so you can find out why and act.

Identify

You may notice the person you care for eating less, visibly looking thinner or their clothing becoming loose.

Have you observed any coughing or choking when eating and drinking? Might they have a swallowing difficulty?

Are you doing monthly weight checks? Do you know if they are gaining or losing weight? Are you completing the MUST score?

Try to identify reasons why a person may be losing weight e.g. deterioration in mental health, infections, medications, depression, dentures.

What can you do

Offer snacks

Choose high calorie options

Little and often is better than one big meal

Ensure food is the correct consistency for modified diets

Milky drinks

What next

Weight loss is continuing

Consider referral to Speech and Language Therapist  if there are concerns about a swallowing difficulty

Follow the MUST pathway:-

  • If MUST score of 1 - follow first line advice.

  • If a MUST score of 2 is reached the resident can be referred to Community Dietetics.
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