A Caregiver’s Guide to Obesity and Senior Living From SeniorHousingNet.com

Posted Thursday October 05, 2023

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Obesity is a common condition among Americans. Living with extra weight can lead to increased health risks, diminished self-confidence and a lower quality of life. Unfortunately for seniors who are obese, it can also lead to discrimination and mistreatment, particularly when seeking health services and long-term care.

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has steadily climbed in recent decades. In fact, more than 40% of adults aged 60 and over were obese as of March 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As people age, the risk of obesity-related conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, increases. That means the need for health care services that take these risks and other health complaints seriously is high among older generations, in particular.

This guide provides an in-depth look at the benefits of senior living for those with obesity, as well as information about finding the right senior care community and resources for older adults and their caregivers. It also includes a list of some of the top U.S. senior living facilities that provide care for obese seniors.

The Benefits of Senior Living for Seniors With Obesity

Senior living offers significant benefits for the health and quality of life of older adults who are considered obese. In addition to providing them with a safe place to stay among peers, senior living facilities, including assisted living residences, offer an abundance of services that can help people with obesity enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Below is a list of common senior living community services and the ways they can benefit residents with obesity:

  • Meal Planning: Meal planning services can help those with obesity adhere to a healthier diet than they might otherwise be able to by ensuring they maintain an adequate caloric intake each day while limiting foods that may be contributing to their obesity.
  • Socialization and Planned Activities: Many seniors with obesity face discrimination, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Daily opportunities to participate in social activities and clubs with fellow residents can help alleviate such feelings.
  • Physical Therapy and Exercise. Many assisted living and nursing care facilities employ on-site physical therapists who can develop and manage programs for seniors with obesity. These often include weight management strategies and strength training to improve mobility.
  • On-Site Health Monitoring. On-site health monitoring is often available. Seniors with obesity can benefit from continual monitoring for heart abnormalities, blood sugar elevations and other signs of conditions relevant to body weight.
  • Medication Reminders and/or Administration. Obesity-related heart or blood sugar conditions can involve daily injections or pills. Assisted living facilities typically provide medication reminders and may be authorized to administer injections.
  • Mobility Assistance. Seniors with obesity may have difficulty with sitting, standing, walking, or overall mobility. Assisted living facilities are handicap accessible, allowing for ease of use with walkers and wheelchairs. Most are single-story facilities or provide elevator access to amenities, as needed.
  • Transportation To/From Medical Appointments. Obesity can create additional health needs that require regular medical attention. Scheduled transportation services can take seniors to off-site medical appointments as needed.

Advocating for Seniors Living with Obesity

Seniors with obesity deserve the same dignity and respect as any other human being, but unfortunately, many struggle to find adequate health care services, and sometimes these services neglect to offer appropriate  care as a result of their body weight. It’s important for those who live with obesity to have supportive families, friends and caregivers to advocate on their behalf and ensure they receive the care they need to enjoy a healthy and comfortable lifestyle.

If you’re advocating on behalf of an obese senior, use the following tips to help ensure they’re treated fairly in the health care system and in other daily interactions.

  • Recognize that obesity is a disease: It’s important to recognize that obesity is a disease that isn’t always easily controlled. It can result from various factors, including sleep, genetics, illnesses and medications. Although diet and a lack of physical activity contribute to obesity, they’re not always the sole causes.
  • Fight against weight-related bias: Weight bias is the act of negatively treating or thinking about those with obesity. Caregivers and loved ones can fight bias by speaking up when it occurs and reporting incidents to the appropriate authorities.
  • Promote a healthier lifestyle: Seniors with obesity can prevent disease and further weight gain by learning to embrace a healthier lifestyle that includes calorie reduction and increased physical activity. Provide them with the information they need to encourage healthier choices without making them feel judged.
  • Educate others: Many people don’t understand the range of factors linked to obesity, such as stress, poor sleep, health conditions and poverty. They may also be unaware of the scope of possible impacts, which include feelings of loneliness and isolation, accessibility challenges and weight bias. Advocates can share facts and information to help others better understand obesity and, in turn, become advocates themselves.

Finding the Right Senior Living Community for Seniors With Obesity

Finding a supportive senior living facility is crucial for seniors with obesity and long-term care needs. Use the checklist below to help find a suitable long-term care option. Click below to Download

Finding the Right Senior Living Community for Seniors With Obesity

Resources for Seniors With Obesity and Their Caregivers

Seniors with obesity and their caregivers face unique struggles that often require the support of outside agencies. The following resources offer assistance in a variety of ways.

Contact How it Helps
Meals on Wheels Contact local provider Seniors who struggle with meal planning or accessing healthy food can rely on Meals on Wheels to provide nutritious hot food each day. Volunteers deliver meals daily, providing food, companionship and wellness checks.
Obesity Action Coalition (800) 717-3117 This nonprofit organization acts as an advocate for obese Americans, including seniors. It also promotes obesity awareness and provides education for health care providers, caregivers and the general public.
My Obesity Team Contact online for support My Obesity Team is a free social network for seniors and adults with obesity. Members can interact with each other to discuss health conditions and other issues affecting those who have obesity and receive support from peers.
Obesity Prevention Source N/A This online resource operated by the Harvard School of Physiology includes an array of programs and resources to help obese Americans better understand their condition and take action to prevent further health complications.
Partnership for a Healthier America (202) 842-9001 This nonprofit organization promotes obesity awareness and works within communities across America to educate groups about the benefits of healthy eating and physical fitness. Its website provides information about healthy eating and resources to improve the lifestyles of those who have obesity.

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