Family Dynamics Of Malnutrition In The Elderly

May 14, 2014

in Anti-Aging,BLOGS,Cancer,General,Health Protection,Heart Health

Family-Grandma-LoveMalnutrition and Family Dynamics


The family dynamics in caring for an elderly relative or friend can be quite intense.

You have an elderly family member who is suffering from malnutrition or is not safe in their current situation. What do you do about it?


Empower yourself with nutrition knowledge and confidence; then with humility, empower Mom and/or her caregiver. Creating a loving, caring, respectful, and trusting relationship will enable you to do this.

  • My dad was in his mid 70’s when he was in congestive heart failure. He was unable to do the ranch work he loved. I suggested he try a specific supplement program that addressed the health of the heart. I basically laid it out in front of him and told him what it would cost. I told him I could not guarantee it would help him but I knew it would not hurt him. He told me he would think about it. The next morning he was ready to give it a try. Read “My Daddy’s Heart.”

My approach was not telling him what to do but simply giving him the facts and letting him make the choice.

  • My mom-in-law (I call her Mom) was widowed for the second time at the age of 80. Larry and I had assisted her and included her in our activities since she was widowed the first time in 1969. Her health was relatively good but as I learned more about nutrition, I made suggestions to her about supplements that might benefit her as well as possible changes in her cooking and food choices. It was a long process but she gradually made changes to her diet and gradually started using supplements.

As I said, it was a long process but once she realized the benefits she was very faithful in taking supplements and was always asking me for advice about what to eat. She was able to live alone and take care of most of her personal needs until age 92.

  • My mother was quite faithful to see that my dad took his supplements. However she was reluctant to spend the money on supplements for herself. It finally took me being firm with her and telling her she was worth the money. We loved her and wanted her to keep her health. Once she started taking the supplements, she was also quite faithful. It wasn’t until she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at age 91 that she was took any drugs, not even an Advil.

I had to be a little firmer with her to get her realize she was worthy of spending the money to take supplements.

  • Back to my mother’s nutritional needs now. When she was diagnosed with lung cancer (the non-smoker type), she was living with my brother and sister-in-law. Thankfully they have been very open with me, seeking my opinion and advice about my mother’s nutritional needs.

My mother is still with us at age 93 although she is gradually failing in health. You can read what I wrote in July 2012 “Mama’s Cancer Journey – Prayer, Supplements, and/or Medicine?”

  • My brother, age 74, lives alone on his little farm. He was sharing with me about his health concerns and the fact that he doesn’t always eat well. He would rather be out farming than cooking and cleaning the kitchen. I worked with him in creating a supplement plan for his particular health concerns. Then I shared some easy changes he could make to his current eating habits.

Again this happened because of love and respect from both of us.

As you can see from these experiences, each approach to nutrition changes needs to be different depending on the person’s personality and family situation. For the most part, I believe it is best to approach the family member with the facts. Sometimes you need to present the whole big program and sometimes suggestions need to be made a little at a time.

There are situations when you need to empower the caregiver. Whether the caregiver is a family member, a friend, a paid home health provider, or a nursing home type facility there can be concerns about your loved one’s nutrition needs. Again, approach them with respect and appreciation for what they are doing. Ask questions; make suggestions for improvements or changes with confidence. You can have that confidence by discussing facts and benefits. Interact and have a civil discussion not an aggressive argument. Create expectations.

  • love-caringWe maintained a healthy relationship with the nursing home staff where Larry’s mother lived from age 92 until her death at age 97. We showed our appreciation for all they did but also created expectations through conversations about her care. The staff knew we loved Mom and cared about her care.

I love hearing about those people who are 90 plus years still living in their own home, still cooking their own meals, and still able to drive or are capable of calling for transportation to social events, shopping, and to doctor’s appointments. I believe independence is the key to healthy aging. We should do everything possible to keep ourselves and our loved ones in a healthy independent environment.

On the other hand, there are the situations that Mom is no longer able to safely live alone. Family members squabble over what to do with Mom. Money can end up being a huge issue. Time required can be a big problem. Maybe a family member wants to take Mom in to live with them but doesn’t really have the ability or resources to do a good job. How does the rest of the family handle that situation?

caring-for-GrandmaI do not have answers to all these questions because there are too many variables. This blog is simply to cause you to think about these issues.

Not easy questions to answer. You may not be able to answer these questions until the time comes. However, you do need to think about them and even discuss them in advance with other family members. Situations can change quickly. Open discussions in advance can eliminate misunderstandings in the future.

Yes, the family dynamics of elder malnutrition is different for every family. Proper advance planning can help but circumstances can change so be flexible, understanding, and considerate of all family members concerned. Work together for the best possible solution.

Empower yourself with nutrition knowledge and confidence; then with humility, empower.

Have you had an experience you would like to share? Please do so in the comments section below or contact me with questions.


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PatMoon  Pat Unlocks the Key to Your Future Health with Wisdom, Knowledge and Common Sense

Pat has been married to the same man for 52 years, is the mother of 3 adult children, and grandma to 8 grandchildren. Growing up in the country gave her a head start to living a healthy lifestyle.  This grandma became interested in nutrition as a mother and for the past 27 plus years she has specialized in teaching others the importance of good nutrition.  Challenges along the road have been many; her father overcoming congestive heart failure with nutrition, her husband's battle with GERD and dealing with major heart issues, her daughter's battle with a brain tumor, her grandson beating Hodgkin's Lymphoma, her mother's stage 4 lung cancer, her mom-n-law's dementia, and others.  Her goal is to empower the future health of others with wisdom, knowledge and common sense so they can have the BEST REAL HEALTH possible. 


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Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

(All information on this blog site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Information on this site has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.)

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Comments on this entry are closed.


1 Gina May 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Thank you for helping us prepare for the furture before it arrives.  I like your apporach of respecting the autonomy of the elder.  

2 Pat Moon May 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

Hi Gina,

Yes, respect is a huge factor when working with other people and especially the elderly. I used to go to the doctor with my mom-n-law. Most doctors talked to her but there were some who spoke directly to me as if she was not even in the room. It used to anger both of us.

Respectfully, Pat

3 Meire Weishaupt May 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Thanks for remind us of the importantance of thinking before times comes…this way we can plan better how we'll take care of our elderly loved ones. I agree with you when you say that independence is key to healthy aging, but should never forget to think about the future and how we'll continue to provide a health life for the elderly.

4 Pat Moon May 19, 2014 at 10:42 am

Hi Meire,

Planning ahead for everyone concerned is important. Having family discussions in a casual setting is so much better than waiting for an emergency situation with an elderly family member.

Your comment is appreciated.


5 Takara Shelor May 18, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Great information about nutrition and how to talk about it, regardless of the person's age. Nutrition is so important. Sadly, many people completely ignore eating well until they have  serious health issue. Its so much easier to prevent problems by taking care of the body than it is to try to fix it once its operating improperly. Great article!

6 Pat Moon May 19, 2014 at 10:39 am

You are right, Takara, Take care of yourself to prevent health problems rather than waiting until they hit and then have to resort to prescription meds, etc. to get the symptoms under some kind of control.

Thanks for your very supportive comment.


7 Sharon G. Cobb May 18, 2014 at 7:03 pm

This is a great article.  I've bookmarked it so I can come back to it often.  Thank you!

8 Pat Moon May 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

Hi Sharon,

I am so glad your found this article helpful. As we go through life at some time we need to help take care of a relative as they age or we even need to know how to age in a more healthy manner ourself.

Thanks for reading.


9 Gilly May 18, 2014 at 7:43 am

Great article Pat! I'm reading this and thinking about the ones who have passed and we've helped out and the ones like my mother, who will eventually need help. My Mom is 78, in great health and I'm hoping the good nutrition she has eaten up until now will keep her sturdy. It's nice because she is still very active by walking every day :)I know Nutritional supplements are something that has helped her also.

10 Pat Moon May 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

Hi Gilly,

It sounds like your mother is doing what she needs to do in order to continue to be active and in great health for a long time. My mother would still be doing great if the lung cancer would not have caught up with her. We really do not know where it came from since she never smoked. There may be something to genes because one of her brothers died at age 88 from cancer of the kidneys and her sister, age 76 just was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course, the sister smoked for years. 

Supplements do also make a difference when you take good ones from whole foods.

Take care,


11 Norma Doiron @Savvy Biz Solutions May 17, 2014 at 8:03 am

Always seek natural remedies before you get that RX. Working in dental offices for 10, it was shocking to see the amount of meds each person takes on a regular basis. Good read, Pat!

12 Pat Moon May 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Hi Norma,

I used to sell Life and Health Insurance. I, too, was absolutely amazing to see the trays of meds people would bring out for me to document on their applications. An interesting thing was that when I would ask them if they had any health problems, many of them would say “No!” They were under the impression that if they were controlling a symptom with medication, it wasn’t a problem! Oh, and another thing, they would be shocked if their application was declined or rated up because of a health issue! People so need to be educated how to get and stay health in a more natural way.

Thanks for reading and making a supportive comment.


13 Don Purdum May 16, 2014 at 7:40 am

Thank you for being aware of the nutritional needs of seniors, As we grow older our needs are constantly changing and evolving, but few of us actually change our diets with our needs. Thanks again for sharing!

14 Pat Moon May 16, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Hi Don,

Like I said, knowledge can empower you with others when shared with a loving and caring attitude.

We can and should empower ourselves also as we age with knowledge and application. It can make a huge different in our future health.

Happy to share.


15 Heather Cameron May 15, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for highlight how important is to be aware of your elder's nutrition. It hard to get them to change habits but it is doable. I take care of both my parents, 86 and 85, they live in a retirement home about 10 minutes from me. Both have had to adjust their diets for different medical issues, it hard but with time and explination it can be done.

16 Pat Moon May 16, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Hi Heather,

I am so happy to hear you still have both your parents to enjoy and they still have one another. That is a special blessing.

Yes, you can help them adjust lifestyle habits at that age but it can be a challenge. It takes persistance on a caring family member’s part to make it happen. I’m glad you are there for them and to encourage them.

Blessings to you!


17 pamela May 15, 2014 at 8:08 am

I really wish I can also live up to 97! What a very long and fruitful life she has. I salute you and your husband for your effort in taking care of her, too. 🙂

18 Pat Moon May 16, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Hi Pamela,

You do have the possibility of living to age 97 and beyond. Be aware of living a healthy lifestyle… it will help you get there.

I suggest supplementation with NeoLife Provitality+ to give you that extra boost to longivity. Join our NeoLife Club to get a huge discount!

Live long and healthy!


19 Caroline St-onge May 15, 2014 at 6:24 am

I take natural supplements. Sometimes I need to take medication but I hope I will continue all my life with natural supplements to be healthy as long as I can! 🙂

20 Pat Moon May 16, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Hi Caroline,

Natural, whole food sourced supplements are good. I’m glad to hear you take supplements. The Journal of the American Medical Association suggested in 2002 the time has come that virtually everyone should supplement their diet for prevention of chronic disease.

You are on the right track!


21 Veronica May 14, 2014 at 10:15 pm

It is amazing that alot of people eat alot but they are still malnourished. Good nutrition takes carefiul thought and even planning and as we get older it is more important to provide the proper nutrient to our bodies

22 Pat Moon May 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Yes, Veronica. Many people who are obese are malnourished. Food choices make a huge difference in our health.

Be healthy!


23 Nate May 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Hello Pat,

Wow, both still look awesome! As we grow older in age it important to still take care of your health.  The shake that you mentioned, on my aunts uses that product and she loves it!  So, it's a good thing that you mentioned it in your blog post!  

24 Pat Moon May 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Hi Nate,

Thanks you! That shake I mentioned and your aunt uses is so…. delicious and such a health easy meal. NeoLife Shake comes in 3 flavors: Creamy Vanilla, Berries n’ Cream, and Rich Chocolate. My favorite is chocolate but they are all delicious!

You need to try it sometime soon!

I appreciate your comment and support.


25 Tina May 14, 2014 at 3:43 pm

What an interesting story. My parents, age 86 and 92 are still living in their home. They don't eat much, and I wish each would put on about 10 pounds! They go out to eat every day (unless the Denver snow keeps them inside) and I know my dad drinks a suppliment of some kind (my mom doesn't). But to try to advise them is a losing battle. Mom woulnd't even take the medication she was given to calm her stomach when she had "a row full of bottles" and the doctor's prescriptions during chemo. It's not easy to be so far away and know there is nothing I can do.

26 Pat Moon May 14, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Hi Tina,

Thank you for sharing about your parents. They are also from a quite hearty generation. I am happy you still have both of them to enjoy and it is a God send that they have one another. That adds a whole other deminsion to the fact that they are still able to live in their home. I totally understand living far away. That has been the case with my parents all my married life. It is difficult.

Your contribution here is appreciated.


27 Roslyn May 14, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I love your personal examples of how you taught and supported family members to take better care. For someone who does not pay attention to nutrition, getting too much info at once is overwhelming. It seems you've delivered it with kindness and respect. Longevity runs in your family and its clear it matters to you that everyone eats right and takes supplements to balance.

28 Pat Moon May 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Thanks, Roslyn for your very supportive comment here. Yes, it is important to me that my loved ones do not ignore their health. Of course, there are those who do not listen to me. That is difficult but I have to not allow it to destroy our relationship. It is one of the burdens of being passionate about certain things.

Take care of yourself and maybe start paying attention just a little more to your food and nutritient choices.


29 Kungphoo May 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Wonderful article! I really need to educate myself on this. I can definitely see how each person requires a different type of supplement plan to fit their health and lifestyle. Thank you for the great information!

30 Pat Moon May 14, 2014 at 5:39 pm

It may seems that each person requires a different type of supplement plan to fit their health and lifestyle. However there are basics that everyone needs. There are nutrients that are the foundation of good health.

I’m glad you are a regular reader here. I’m also always available to answer questions about a good plan just for you.

Take care and educate yourself to at least the basics.


31 Beverley Golden May 14, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Great post for those who have elderly people in our lives Pat.  As you know, my dear mother Lillian who I wrote about in my post The Mother of All Mothers, is still active and vibrant at age 98, living on her own and enjoying life.  She never seemed to be overly concerned about what she ate, even though as her daughter, food and nutrition was my health journey in my lifetime.  She has been open to listening to some of my daughters and my suggestions and she does take supplements and some green. I feel grateful that even at this ripe age, she astounds everyone (doctors included) with her life forces and seems to defy what is possible for someone her age. 

32 Pat Moon May 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Hi Beverley,

Your mother was one of my inspirations during the writing of this article. She is amazing and I am so thankful I was introduced to her through your article “The Mother of All Mothers”. Even though my mother does have cancer, she never ceases to amaze her doctors as well as anyone who knows her personally. Two women from an era of hardships like the depression, wars, the dust bowl, etc. My mother-in-law was right in there with them. Here’s a link to a video of a song our son wrote about her and surviving the dust bowl days. Grandma’s Dance by Michael Moon.



33 Meryl Hershey Beck May 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I am always looking for natural ways to stay healthy. I think our heath is vital to all aspects of our lives. When we feel good on the inside it reflects on the outside.  We need to value nutrition more than we do and not mask our illnesses with medications. First, look for alterior methods in which to heal our bodies. 

34 Pat Moon May 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Hi Meryl,

Absolutely, we need to value nutrition more in healing and nurturing the body rather than masking the symptom of disease or illness with medication. Our bodies are created amazingly and given the proper tools are capable of amazing things.

I appreciate your very supportive comment.


35 Alexandra McAllister May 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Great post, Pat. I agree, proper nutrition is so important as we age. Good to hear that you are offering a line of products that are healthy! The prices are affordable as well. Thanks for sharing your story.

36 Jacquelyn L Gioertz May 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Thank you for sharing the importance of nutrition as we age. I totally agree with you, it's so important to maintain your health through natural supplements and nutrition rather than reach for medicines. 

37 Pat Moon May 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Hi Jacquelyn,

There is a time and place for medicines but it should not be in place of getting healthy nutrition. Often medications cause more harm than help.

Thanks for your supportive comment.


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