Has Your Elderly Parent Been Diagnosed With Failure To Thrive?

Failure to thrive generally means that the elderly person has lost the ability to maintain their physical or emotional strength. It is a term that is often used to describe elderly adults that were previously active, but are now socially withdrawn, depressed and lonely.

This condition is often the result of various issues, such as chronic disease, poor appetite, emotional deprivation or physical decline. There are several physical and emotional issues that may lead to failure to thrive, including inactivity, falls and poor nutrition. The good news is with the appropriate senior care services, a diagnosis of failure to thrive can often be reversed.

Failure to Thrive: Cause & Symptoms

Elderly adults who live alone are often prone to self-neglect, such as no longer participating in activities they previously enjoyed, skipping meals and avoiding the signs of potential health problems. One of the most common symptoms of failure to thrive is excessive weight loss due to poor nutrition. Depression, which is often a cause as well as a result of failure to thrive, can also be a cause for significant weight loss.

A lack of support, malnutrition and an electrolyte imbalance and/or a personal loss, such as the death of a spouse can all have a significant effect on the physical and mental health of the elderly, ultimately promoting failure to thrive.

Reversing the Diagnosis

Learning that your elderly parent has been diagnosed with failure to thrive can be overwhelming and frightening. The good news is between you and senior home care providers, there are many ways to help your elderly parent fight and overcome a failure to thrive diagnosis, including:

  • If you are unable to be with your parent round the clock, it is important to hire home care providers to closely monitor your parent's behaviors. For example, are they unwilling to eat and drink appropriately or are they showing signs of depression? Take notes so you can discuss your concerns with their primary physician.
  • Check medications to determine if they may have side effects, such as lack of appetite or depression.
  • Document all meals to determine if your parent is getting the proper nutrition. Talk with the home care provider about encouraging healthy meals.
  • Between family and home care providers, keeping your parent active is essential for a healthy body and mind. If your elderly parent is mobile, encourage mild exercise and outside activities. If they are immobile, encourage board games and puzzles.

Eating healthy and social stimulation are critical in keeping the elderly healthy and active. Home care providers are extremely beneficial in ensuring your parent is eating appropriately and providing socialization. Depression is a primary symptom of failure to thrive, so it is important to encourage activity, socialization and routine visits to the physician.