Risk of Weight Loss in Old Age

Old age in both men and women brings along various body problems. However, women happen to experience more old age problems compared to men. One common problem that both genders suffer in old age is weight loss. Although weight loss in old age can be because of various factors including lack of proper diet, it is usually a symptom of dementia, a class of medical conditions that mainly affect the brain.

According to American Academy of Neurology, older people who lose weight at a fast rate stand a very high risk of developing dementia. In a research study report published in Neurology medical journal, older people with lower body mass index (BMI) are at most risk of developing dementia compared with those with higher BMI. In a research study extending to eight years and comprising 1,836 Japanese Americans with an average age of 72 years, 129 of participants proceeded to develop dementia. These were noted to have a low BMI and lost weight at a fast rate. In particular, the study established that those who were overweight or obese at the start of the study were actually those who eventually developed dementia.

Dementia does not occur abruptly in old age. It is rather a condition that sets in due to various diseases, infections, medications and nutritional deficiencies early in life. Dementias are therefore a direct result of negative effects that damage brain tissues or cerebral cortex. Although non-permanent damage to the brain tissues also causes dementia, such can be reversed. It therefore occurs that there are both irreversible and non irreversible causes of dementia.

Irreversible causes of dementia have the characteristic of damaging brain cells in both cortical and sub-cortical areas. Irreversible causes of dementia are mostly health conditions including Alzheimer disease, atherosclerosis, Parkinson disease, Huntington disease and Pick disease amongst others. Causes of reversible dementia are varied and are in most cases treatable. They include head injuries resulting from accidents, normal pressure hydrocephalus, toxic exposure, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumors amongst others.

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According to the American Academy of Neurology research study, dementia develops in the brain without showing any symptoms. This in effect means that incidents of overweight and obesity in mid life are serious risk factors to the development of dementia in old age. Dementia’s major effect in the body is loss of memory, something that most people experience in old age. Medical professionals employ the use of varied medications and therapies in treating reversible dementia. In certain cases, one may need to be hospitalized for effective treatment of the same.

A close look at the weight loss in old age clearly reveals the relationship between diet/lifestyle and the development of dementia. The importance of sticking to healthy foods/drinks and healthy lifestyle becomes obvious. In particular, consumption of green vegetables and fruits can go a long way in preventing damage to the cortical and sub-cortical areas of the brain whose damage leads to the development of dementia in old age. While weight loss in old age is perfectly normal depending on several factors, fast weight loss should be a cause of concern and should actually be medically investigated.

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