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What is a Healthy Weight for Seniors and How Do You Maintain it?

Posted by Daystar Retirement Village on Nov 10, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Helping your senior loved one to achieve and maintain a healthy weight can be confusing and daunting!  As in any other overwhelming task, by measuring your current state and setting reasonable goals to reach a bigger target is the ticket to success.  We’re here to help you break it down and stay on track!

What is a Healthy Weight for Seniors and How Do You Maintain it

While every aspect of daily living and functioning is thoughtfully considered, physical health remains very important for seniors and is a top priority. At Daystar Retirement Village in West Seattle, WA, we are proud to care for our residents’ health in these challenging times. And as we always have, we provide healthy lifestyle options for all abilities that range from stretching and exercise classes to onsite independently contracted physical therapy vendors in order to provide a constant variety of opportunities to entice our seniors into an active lifestyle.

What is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, which is calculated using an individual’s height and weight in order to categorize weight into the ranges of underweight, healthy weight, and overweight.  In a sense, BMI is an easy way to compare apples to apples, no matter an individual’s specific measurements.  Many online calculators are available because this calculation requires a bit of math.  It is done by dividing height in inches by weight. Average Body Mass Indexes range from 18 to 24.9.  Though women and older adults tend to have more fat content, gender and age are not typically factored into this calculation.

How is BMI Different for Seniors?

Though Body Mass Index remains an easy and reliable way to help identify a healthy weight across individuals, it is not always the most important individual factor in health decisions, especially for seniors.  Recent research has indicated that the BMI metric may not be as useful in determining senior health risk as it is in their younger counterparts.  A recent meta-analysis of almost 200,000 adults over 65 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that widely accepted adult BMI ranges may not apply in the same way to seniors.  In fact, being underweight was more closely linked with the risk for death, whereas obesity was not.  

Of course, being underweight may be a symptom of another underlying condition or illness where patients lose weight, which would skew a statistic such as this, and being overweight is related to serious risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.  

Because every individual needs detailed, thoughtful and nuanced care, we encourage you to include your senior’s physician in all decisions about weight management strategies.

Tips to Help Seniors Gain Weight

When your senior loved one’s goals include weight gain, your best bet may be a menu of strategies!  Different options may be more appetizing on different days.  Because senior weight gain from healthy sources is just as important as weight gain itself, we’ve listed some tips and tricks for healthy senior weight gain here:

Set Reasonable Goals: Depending on your loved one’s frame and ability to accept extra calories and foods, weekly weight gain goals may range from 0.5 pounds to 2 pounds.

Examine Eating Habits: 

  • Try smaller meals more frequently.
  • Make meals social to help ease the possible pressure of eating.
  • Offer options.  If every option in the cupboard is overwhelming for your loved one, try offering three!

Focus on Healthy Sources of Weight Gain

  • Nut and Nut Butters- These are awesome additions to existing favorites or as a standalone snack!  Add a handful of nuts to a salad or a scoop of peanut butter in a protein shake! 
  • Lean Oily Fish and Salmon- Delicious in a salad, pasta, or as a main dish!
  • Full Fat Dairy- Use whole milk and heavy cream!  Ditch reduced-fat versions of sour cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • Expand your Starches!- Try quinoa, sweet potatoes, oats, corn, parsnips, and other root vegetables.
  • Add Some Good Fats!- Try avocado, extra olive oil, or egg.  If you get lucky at the farmer’s market, try substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs in your baked goods for a richer, fattier treat!

Tips to Help Seniors Maintain a Healthy Weight

When your loved one’s goals include weight reduction, variety is the name of the game!  Reasonable weight loss goals are again 0.5 pounds to 2 pounds maximum per week.

Get Moving!:  Walking even just a little more is a great start!  What else can you do together that gets you up and moving around?  Are there outdoor activities, favorite places to visit, or hobbies you can do together where you can get your steps in?

Stay Strong: Gentle flexibility or strength-building exercise skills come in all kinds.  Consider yoga, rhythmic dance, swimming, or water aerobics as just a few options.

Avoid Empty Calories: Don’t go overboard!  Adopting an extreme diet with little room for flexibility can reduce the likelihood that the diet can be followed over time.  Sometimes, you’ve just gotta have a cookie.

Focus on the Good Stuff: Identify favorite fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and different ways of preparing them!  Try new recipes and change out tired ones.  Sync your produce selection with the growing seasons to get the most delicious version of your dish.  Tomatoes, for example, make an excellent addition in the summer in Washington, but much less so in the winter, as they’re not in season.

Elite Senior Living in West Seattle, WA

Check out a sample menu here to see some of these ideas in action!  At Daystar Retirement Village, we put a focus on senior health from a multi-faceted perspective.  See the current availability of our senior living residences and options. When you’re ready, contact us to ask questions, learn more, and set up a tour to see our retirement village for yourself.  We look forward to getting to know you and working together to support your family!

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Tags: Senior Living 101, Senior Health

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