How to Recognize Vitamin D Deficiency in Senior Loved Ones
Vitamin D Necessity for Seniors
Vitamin D deficiency is especially common in seniors who are spending much of their time inside. Vitamin D deficiency can be a serious problem for seniors. It can cause several issues like depression, increased risk of bone disorders, and increased risk of illnesses and diseases.
Vitamin D is received through exposure to sunlight, as well as through the consumption of certain foods and drinks. Figuring out the required amount of Vitamin D a person’s body needs to absorb or consume is based on age. The International Journal of Health Sciences has called Vitamin D deficiency a worldwide epidemic, meaning Vitamin D deficiency is a problem not just in the United States, but all over the world.
Before seeking out ways to ensure that your senior loved one is receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin D, it is necessary to first understand why maintaining proper levels of Vitamin D is important for seniors.
Why Vitamin D is important for seniors (and everyone else!)
Vitamin D is a crucial component to having strong bones through its ability to help our bodies absorb calcium. This means that Vitamin D is essential to reducing a person’s risk of developing bone disorders, such as osteoporosis, and preventing fractures or breaks in bones. This is vital for seniors because they are more at risk for falls and bone disorders as they age.
Additionally, Vitamin D regulates cell growth, helps carry messages throughout the body, and fights infections. These key functions help reduce the risk of illnesses and diseases like the flu, diabetes, cancer, and certain cardiovascular diseases. Reducing the risk of these potentially fatal illnesses and diseases is even more beneficial to seniors who already are at risk due to other health factors.
According to a six-year study from the Netherlands, seniors between the ages of 65-88 with a Vitamin D deficiency are nearly twice as likely to have a physical limitation compared to seniors with the highest vitamin levels. The same study also specified that 70% of seniors in the same age group who had at least one physical limitation are likely to develop additional physical limitations over time.
Since Vitamin D is imperative to everyday health, knowing the signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency is very important. Below are the deficiency symptoms.
Vitamin D Deficiency symptoms
- Getting sick or infected often
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Bone and back pain
- Impaired wound healing
- Bone loss
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
- Decreased dietary intake
- Impaired intestinal absorption
- Reduced skin thickness
If some of these signs are observed in a senior loved one in addition to known lack of sunlight exposure or lack of Vitamin D rich foods, a doctor should be consulted to test if a Vitamin D deficiency exists. If a Vitamin D efficiency exists, the doctor can provide ways to help fix the deficiency.
How to ensure seniors are receiving an adequate amount of Vitamin D
Know how much is needed for you: adults from age 51-70 need 600 IU (international units) or 15 mcg (micrograms) and adults over 70 need 800 ICU or 20 mcg.
To receive the proper amounts of Vitamin D, going outside 2-3 times a week for 10 minutes at a time while having sunlight exposed to your bare skin (face, arms, legs) can be all that’s needed.
Eat the proper foods:
The following foods can provide you with Vitamin D
- Dairy products (fortified skim milk)
- Fish (raw herring, cooked swordfish, raw maitake mushrooms, cooked salmon, canned sardines, canned tuna, cod liver oil)
- Chicken eggs
- Orange juice
Supplements can be taken to help counter Vitamin D deficiency. However, before taking any supplements, you should always consult with a doctor. They can perform a blood test to determine if you are receiving the right amount of Vitamin D. Based on those results, they can then help decide if a supplement is necessary.
Vitamin D is important to maintaining everyday health as well as helping to prevent major health problems. Seniors are much more likely to experience Vitamin D deficiency due to changes in the body and the higher potential for insufficient sun exposure. In order to help avoid the potential problems associated with Vitamin D deficiency, following the tips outlined above can help your senior loved one. If your senior loved one may be having difficulty managing daily activities of living, let alone their Vitamin D intake, home care may be a good option to help.
Activities of daily living include meal preparation, bathing, dressing, and light housekeeping, among many other typical daily tasks. Home care can allow seniors to keep their independence by remaining in their home with the assistance of a caregiver.
While traditional home care agencies can be expensive, Caregogi can provide you with home care at nearly half the cost of traditional agencies by giving you the power to choose, interview, and hire the caregiver that you want. With a unique algorithm, Caregogi matches seniors in need of care with caregivers in their area based on their needs. Visit Caregogi today to see how Caregogi can help your loved one age in place in their home.