If you're like most people who are responsible for providing caregiving assistance to senior citizens, you probably already know that many seniors are particularly vulnerable to experiencing vitamin deficiencies. Although you do your best to ensure that your senior eats a balanced, nutritious diet, it's often difficult for seniors to get all the vitamins and minerals they need through diet alone. One of the most common issues faced by senior citizens is vitamin D deficiency, but caregivers sometimes struggle with knowing when this particular deficiency is a part of the picture.
The following are five signs that your senior loved one may need to speak to his or her personal physician about vitamin D deficiency.
Irritability is somewhat common among many senior citizens, so it's not a sure sign of a vitamin D deficiency. Watch for irritability that happens with increasing frequency during the winter months, especially if it's accompanied by depression or outright fits of anger.
The lack of vitamin D sometimes results in inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. A complication of this is that the aging process slows down the body's ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D.
Stiff joints can have several root causes, but vitamin D deficiency is among the major culprits. Because stiff joints are often considered to be just a normal part of aging, many people simply choose to live with the condition instead of looking for ways to help keep it from happening.
Another common sign in seniors is a sense of general fatigue. Fatigue can signal many different health issues so it's important to seek medical attention if it persists beyond a couple of days with no apparent reason.
Most people don't realize that vitamin D deficiency in seniors is a major cause of weight gain. That's because vitamin D regulates a hormone known as leptin, which is responsible for sending signals to the brain when the body is full.
It's also important to remember that even though vitamin D deficiency is more common during the winter months, it can occur at any time of the year -- especially if your senior spends most of his or her time indoors. Fortunately, vitamin D is easily absorbed into the skin, and spending a bit more time outdoors may be all that your senior needs in order to get his or her daily requirement. Supplements are also available.
Learn more about how to provide in home senior care and help seniors with issues such as vitamin D deficiency.