10
   

Thin Senior Citizens - Cause and Correlation

 
 
CDobyns
 
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 01:26 pm
As I've gotten older, I've observed others who are even more advanced in age in order to "predict" where I'm heading.

More specifically, I've noted that while older men and women seemingly gain weight during the aging process - at some point (in the 80's ?), seemingly really older men and women all (okay, mostly all . . .), seem to appear to grow noticeably thinner, as they continue to age.

While I've taken courses in college on aging and even the psychology of aging, out of curiosity, I've wondered what were maybe the causes for this thinning that is seen in much older men and women. So, we can probably discount increased activity as the source of this weight reduction, but what are the other possible causes, and does anyone have any theories (supported by anything approximating empirical fact . . .).

Possible sources:

• Reduced incomes in later years and consequently less money to buy nutritious food
• Diminished cognitive processes and simply forgetting to eat regularly
• Lack of facilities or the motivation to cook and eat regularly
• Reduced or loss of appetite due to the aging process
• Reduced effectiveness of the digestive system to process food into bodily stores (fat, muscle, etc.)

What other theories are out there?

 
dalehileman
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 03:35 pm
@CDobyns,
Quote:
I've wondered what were maybe the causes for this thinning that is seen in much older men and women
At 83 and contiually if not continuously exceeding my target mass, so have I

Quote:
• Reduced incomes in later years and consequently less money to buy nutritious food
Food's too cheap. Everywhere somebody's forcing more upon us

Quote:
• Diminished cognitive processes
Yes I qualify here. What was your original q

Quote:
...and simply forgetting to eat regularly
Ya gottbe kidding

Quote:
• Lack of facilities or the motivation to cook and eat regularly
Your mate might not be the excellent cook that I herewith boast of

Quote:
• Reduced or loss of appetite due to the aging process
Alas how do I get into this classification besides further aging

Quote:
• Reduced effectiveness of the digestive system to process food into bodily stores (fat, muscle, etc.)
If there's a God I'm sure it's She who thereby repays many of us for not having committed murder or some other heinous crime during our otherwise worthless lifetimes
roger
 
  2  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 03:57 pm
@dalehileman,
dalehileman wrote:

Quote:
...and simply forgetting to eat regularly
Ya gottbe kidding


Yeah, I think he missed the boat on this one.

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 06:23 pm
@CDobyns,
I'm a thin senior, having lost weight on purpose through my eating choices over about three years. I cook most of my own food, but I don't get less nutrition, since I don't use much packaged or canned goods at all except for canned tomatoes and boxes of oatmeal, dried pasta, and sometimes frozen vegetables, instead of my usual produce. I'm on the poor side and have noticed that people seem to think the poor necessarily eat low nutrition food. Yes, quite often they do, but it's not a given across the board.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 06:44 pm
At age 75 I'm thin as a rail and way underweight. But I've always been that way. I don't know that it has anything to do with ageing. Diminished income, perhaps in part. But, as I said, I've always been a beanpole.
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 07:20 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Okay, this was a good first (and maybe only?) round on input on this question.

This was a serious question, mostly based on the personal observations of my own father over the past several years - until he passed away last year, at the age of 87 (and no, he didn't die of starvation . . . although he gradually did get pretty thin towards the end).

These were all good responses, mostly (seemingly) drawn from personal experience, and at least some of them were fun to read - although dalehileman almost seemed to be having a little bit too much fun . . .

So, these were just a couple of my theories, and while I guess we're unequivocally dismissing the possibility of older men and women simply "forgetting to eat . . .", are there any other theories we've overlooked?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 07:40 pm
@CDobyns,
In a small percentage of thinness, it could be advanced diabetes. Organs finally fail, and the pancreas is one of them. We often associate diabetes with overweight, but at the point where insulin production is too low and the condition is undiagnosed and treated, sugars never get converted to fats. They just stay in the blood stream till eliminated.

On the other hand, I spend a certain amount of time around some quite elderly people, and while there might be such a trend, it is not an overwhelming majority.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  4  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 07:42 pm
@CDobyns,
It could just be that people with a tendency to be thin tend to live longer. If all the heavier set people die in the 70's, then your sample population is not representative of people in general.
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 08:11 pm
@engineer,
That's good thinking, engineer. Frankly, I hadn't thought of that
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 08:18 pm
@engineer,
Good point.
0 Replies
 
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 08:20 pm
@engineer,
Nice observation by engineer (love it). This was an angle that isn't always considered. However, my question really underscored the phenomenon of men and women would had always been heavy-set (not necessarily overweight . . .), but who in the later stages of aging - grew noticeably thinner (for reasons not attributable to chronic or acute disease).
Pearlylustre
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 08:40 pm
@CDobyns,
My mother had been overweight all her life and now at 78 is the right weight for her height. She was quite sick a few years ago and seemed to lose her appetite after that. She's not unwell, she says she's just not very hungry anymore.
0 Replies
 
anonymously99stwin
 
  0  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 10:54 pm
@CDobyns,
CDobyns wrote:
As I've gotten older, I've observed others who are even more advanced in age in order to "predict" where I'm heading. 
More specifically, I've noted that while older men and women seemingly gain weight during the aging process - at some point (in the 80's ?), seemingly really older men and women all (okay, mostly all . . .), seem to appear to grow noticeably thinner, as they continue to age.
While I've taken courses in college on aging and even the psychology of aging, out of curiosity, I've wondered what were maybe the causes for this thinning that is seen in much older men and women.
So, we can probably discount increased activity as the source of this weight reduction, but what are the other possible causes, and does anyone have any theories (supported by anything approximating empirical fact . . .). 
Possible sources:
• Reduced incomes in later years and consequently less money to buy nutritious food
• Diminished cognitive processes and simply forgetting to eat regularly
• Lack of facilities or the motivation to cook and eat regularly
• Reduced or loss of appetite due to the aging process
• Reduced effectiveness of the digestive system to process food into bodily stores (fat, muscle, etc.)
What other theories are out there?


anon wrote:
Life happens.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  2  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2014 11:18 pm
@CDobyns,
Maybe they've come to the realization that if they weigh less they'll have a less painful life living with arthritis.

Maybe they have dental problems they can't afford to fix since Medicare doesn't cover dental work. Might be harder for them to chew many foods.

Maybe they have dementia and really don't remember when or what to eat unless reminded by someone.

Maybe they aren't able to prepare their own food anymore and are unable to do their own grocery shopping and don't ask for help because they don't want to be a burden to anyone.

Maybe they've lost their appetite due to the many medications the elderly are given by their multiple doctors.

Maybe they just aren't that interested in food any more and their social lives no longer revolve around food.
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2014 09:07 am
@CDobyns,
There are changes in the senses of taste and smell as we age, and that affects the flavor of food.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/booming/sense-of-taste-changes-with-age.html?_r=0

http://longevity.about.com/od/agingproblems/a/Is-Your-Taste-Changing-With-Age.htm

These changes are gradual but, by the time people are in their 80's and 90's, food may have little appeal for many people because it may have too little flavor and taste. Food may need to be more highly seasoned in order to taste better.

And, in that age range, some people are on salt-restricted diets, due to hypertension or kidney problems, and that may diminish the flavor and appeal of food even more.

Some older people also eat fat-restricted diets, when there is really no longer a need to do that, and a person in that age range who is too thin may need higher fat foods in order to boost their calorie intake, and higher fat foods may also have more taste appeal.

Beside sensory changes, many older people often suffer from depression, even a low level chronic depression, and that does affect appetite.

Being very thin is not healthier for the elderly, quite the opposite. So, it's important to do everything possible to make the taste and flavor and texture of food more appealing in order to insure that there is adequate calorie intake, and smaller more frequent meals may help with that. The liquid supplements, drinks like Ensure or Boost, taken as a snack rather than a meal replacement, may also help with increasing calories.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2014 09:21 am
@firefly,
It's true that thinness can be non protective - when I called myself thin, I meant in relative terms, bmi-wise, to when I was overweight the last time, peaking in 2005. Have been steady for years now.
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2014 10:27 am
@ossobuco,
1. Medications can reduce appetite.

2. The body is requiring less.

3. Too tired or too much hassle to prepare food.

0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2014 11:58 am
@Lustig Andrei,
Quote:
At age 75 I'm thin as a rail and way underweight.
What a lucky fellow, Lusty
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2014 12:00 pm
@CDobyns,
Quote:
- although dalehileman almost seemed to be having a little bit too much fun . . .
An awful habit, terrible, with my most genuine apologies to all
anonymously99stwin
 
  0  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2014 12:49 pm
@dalehileman,
There's nothing wrong with you.
 

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