As you get older, maintaining your weight is not only more challenging, it becomes more important, especially if you or a loved one is in the elderly category (60 years and over).
This is because body weight, both under and overweight or obese, can affect the health of the elderly. For that, you need to maintain or support your loved ones in maintaining their ideal weight in old age.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is normal for the elderly
If you want to find out whether you or your loved one’s weight is ideal, under or overweight, you can calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine it.
According to WHO, Body Mass Index (BMI) or Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index of body weight for height used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. BMI is defined as body weight in kilograms divided by height in meters (kg / m2).
BMI category standards for adults are divided into five, namely:
- <18.5 = Body weight too low
- 18.5 – 24.9 = Normal or ideal
- 25-29 = Excess weight or fat
- 30 – 39,9 = Obesity
- > 40 = Extreme obesity or high risk
However, keep in mind that the ideal BMI in the elderly is in the range of 25 to 27. Don’t let you or your loved ones have a BMI that is less than 25. For example, for elderly people who are over 65 years old, it is better to have a BMI that is higher than the normal range. to protect the body from the risk of thinning bones or osteoporosis.
The manual formula for calculating BMI is Body Weight (kg): [Tinggi Badan (m) x Tinggi Badan (m)]. However, if you want to calculate it quickly, you can find out here.
The importance of maintaining body weight for the elderly
Elderly people need to maintain ideal body weight considering there are several health risks if they become overweight or obese, or if they are underweight.
Risk factors for obesity in the elderly
CDC defines obesity as the result of an imbalance of energy intake in the form of calories from food and drink consumed, with energy used to carry out metabolic and physical functions of the body.
Quoting from the study entitled Obesity in Elderly, obesity is a health problem that must be considered because it can increase the risk of dangerous diseases in the elderly such as hypertension, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), diabetes and heart disease.
In the same study, obesity was stated to trigger stress in the joints, causing limited mobility. In addition, obesity can also cause breathing problems such as obstructive sleep apnea (stopping breathing during sleep).
In fact, the elderly with high BMI levels are also at risk of developing cancers such as breast, uterine and colorectal cancer and leukemia.
Factors of underweight in the elderly
Elderly people whose body weight does not reach the ideal BMI of 25 to 27 also need to be vigilant. The reason is that weight loss can cause muscle mass to shrink or it is called sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is a common condition in old age. This syndrome is characterized by a decrease in muscle mass and overall muscle strength and is often associated with a risk of physical disability, decreased quality of life and death.
Apart from sarcopenia, being underweight also increases your risk of health problems including:
- Loss of the protective effect of fat (eg hip fracture)
- Atherosclerosis or narrowing of the blood vessels
- Decreased immune system, making it susceptible to infection
- Lack of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals
What’s more, the elderly often experience a loss of appetite. As a result, there is weight loss.
Based on studies An overview of appetite decline in older people, there are several causes for decreased appetite in the elderly including:
- Digestive system changes
- Hormonal changes
- Changes in the senses of smell, taste and sight.
- Dementia (memory loss)
- Are taking medications such as antibiotics and muscle aches
How to maintain ideal body weight in the elderly
Elderly can apply several ways to maintain ideal body weight, so as not to be obese or underweight. Here are the ways.
1. Keeping the body active
Do light exercise such as walking every day, actively moving at home with frequent activities, and participating in special sports classes for the elderly.
2. Implement a healthy diet
If you or your loved one is obese, then you must change your diet by choosing foods such as:
- Foods that contain low-fat protein
- Green vegetable
- Whole grains
However, if you or your loved ones have a medical history so you cannot apply the above diet, consult your doctor about the best diet for your body.
Meanwhile, for the elderly who have difficulty gaining weight, they can schedule several meals and eat nutritious snacks every day. Protein drinks are also recommended for the elderly who have lost their appetite.
3. Consume additional nutrients when needed
Elderly who begin to lose their appetite, of course, need additional nutrition. You can consume milk that is rich in the following nutrients:
- Whey protein to maintain muscle strength
- Vitamin D to maintain bone density
- Vitamins E, B6, and B12 to increase endurance
- Prebiotics and Probiotics to maintain digestive health
- Vegetable fats to maintain heart health
Milk with the five ingredients above can be used as additional nutrition to meet nutritional needs for the elderly, which are not obtained from daily food consumption.
Milk is one of the right sources of nutritional supplements for the elderly because it contains important nutrients that your body needs in old age. Thus, the combination of a healthy and balanced diet with nutrient-rich milk is a complete combination in an effort to meet the daily nutritional needs of the elderly’s body. Consult with your doctor to get dietary recommendations according to your health condition or your loved ones.