Elderly adults are at a higher risk for vitamin deficiencies, mainly due to decreasing absorption by the digestive system, dietary changes, or decreased food intake. Lancaster, PA, home care professionals suggest using these strategies to prevent B12 deficiency in your elderly loved one.
Know the Risk Factors
Simply being over 50 places a person at greater risk for anemia. However, other lifestyle factors like taking medications such as metformin can also affect your loved one’s B12 levels. Alcoholism, low levels of stomach acid, and digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease are additional risk factors for B12 deficiency.
Watch for Symptoms of a Deficiency
Once a deficiency occurs, you may notice symptoms associated with anemia such as fatigue and shortness of breath. Your loved one may also experience neurological symptoms like dizziness or difficulty walking. Memory lapses, irritability, and foggy thinking are a few other symptoms of a B12 deficiency.
Schedule an Anemia Test
Many of the symptoms associated with B12 deficiency commonly occur with other health conditions. For this reason, many seniors are not diagnosed with a deficiency until it has gone on long enough to have a major effect on their health. If you suspect a possible deficiency, ask your loved one’s physician to test your loved one’s B12 blood serum levels. This is the only sure way to know if your loved one has a deficiency.
Many seniors have a B12 deficiency, and your loved one’s physician may recommend taking a vitamin supplement to prevent it. Seniors who are already deficient may require a series of B12 shots to get their levels up to normal. While supplementation works for most seniors, be sure to check with the physician before administering them because some medications interact with certain vitamins.
Provide Healthy Foods
The body can store B12 for many years, which means the deficiency can be prevented simply by following a healthy diet plan. This vitamin is commonly found in animal sources such as fish, beef, and poultry, so make sure your loved one is eating protein. Vegetarians can also receive B12 from fortified breakfast cereals and soy products.
If your loved one requires motivation and support to eat healthy and prevent nutritional deficiencies, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We can provide an hourly or live-in home caregiver in Lancaster to help your loved one with a wide variety of tasks, including meal prep and grocery shopping. Call a Care Manager at (717) 540-4663 to learn more about our flexible senior care services and how they can help your loved one age comfortably at home.