When a loved one has failure to thrive, it can be difficult to know where to turn. Failure to thrive is not technically a disease or disorder; instead, it describes a situation in which a child or adult is undernourished, either because they do not receive enough calories and nutrients or because they are unable to process them. Its causes are varied, and the right solution will depend on several factors.
Children are diagnosed with failure to thrive if their weight or the rate at which they are gaining weight falls significantly below that of children who are their same age and sex.
This is often determined using standard growth charts; if their weight is lower than the third percentile or their height is 20 percent or more below the ideal height for their weight, it could be considered failure to thrive.
They might also experience delays in the development of physical, mental and social skills. Babies and children who have failure to thrive are often noticeably smaller and shorter than their peers.
Although failure to thrive is most commonly associated with infants, it can also occur among the senior population. Adult failure to thrive, also known as geriatric failure to thrive, occurs when an elderly person experiences a gradual decline in their health that does not have an immediate explanation. It may be caused by unknown medical problems, poor appetite or diet, physical decline or medication interaction.
In adults, its symptoms include a decrease in appetite, inactivity and weight loss. Patients might also experience dehydration, depression, impaired physical or cognitive function, or poor immune function.
Solutions For Failure To Thrive Patients
It can be very upsetting to see a loved one go through this condition, but there are steps that can be taken to improve the situation. The treatment for failure to thrive depends on the cause of the problem, the severity of the symptoms, the age of the patient and their overall health.
When delayed growth in babies and children is due to nutritional factors, for example, educating parents on how to feed them a well-balanced diet can sometimes be enough to see improvements. When psychosocial factors are involved, the family dynamic and living conditions may need to be improved.
For adults with failure to thrive, the solution may be more complex given the many factors that can cause this issue among this age group. Medical tests are typically carried out to determine the potential cause of the problem, but improving the patient’s diet and psychosocial factors can often make a big difference This might be combined with changes in medication that can help improve appetite.
Nutritionally Balanced Diet
In failure to thrive, a nutritionally balanced diet is essential regardless of age. Keeping a journal of everything your loved one eats and drinks can help to identify where they may be falling short. A nutritionist or dietician can evaluate this list and devise a more well-rounded plan.
It is not just food intake that deserves closer scrutiny in geriatric failure to thrive patients; medications could also be the culprit. Find out which medications your loved one is taking and speak to a doctor or pharmacist to find out whether any side effects or drug interactions could be behind their failure to thrive. It is also important to ensure they are taking their medications correctly.
In some cases, nutritional supplements might be administered to ensure the patient gets the nutrients they are lacking if they struggle to get enough through diet alone. In more severe cases, feeding tubes in the hospital might be used to provide additional nourishment.
It is also important to be aware of any health problems that are making it hard for the body to absorb the nutrients it needs. For example, when someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it causes damage to their gut that prevents them from properly absorbing nutrients into their body. Babies and older people who vomit frequently might not be able to keep the food they consume in their system long enough to properly digest it. These are all issues that their medical team should be investigating as potential causes of failure to thrive.
Improving The Family Dynamic
In children and babies with failure to thrive that is not solely tied to nutrition, improving the family dynamic can help. For example, emotional deprivation from parental hostility, rejection or withdrawal can cause failure to thrive; helping babies build an emotional bond with a parent or other caretaker can help to set them on the right path.
An examination of parental attitudes and behaviors might be carried out to see if this could be influencing the child’s problems. If a doctor suspects that unhealthy practices within the family are a cause of the problem, caregivers might be given counseling.
Likewise, social stimulation can go a long way toward keeping older people active and healthy. Talk to your elderly loved one frequently, and take them to visit friends and relatives. Start conversations by asking about topics that are important to them and pull out old family photos to inspire discussions.
Scheduling some activities that meet their needs helps increase their enjoyment of life and boost motivation. Exercise might also be used to address depression and food intake issues; the endorphins it releases can bring about a sense of well-being in those who participate.
Improvement Of Living Conditions
Economic problems that impact nutrition, parental attitudes and living conditions sometimes play a role in failure to thrive. In very poor living conditions, exposure to parasites, toxins and infections can also contribute to the problem.
In some cases, a child or geriatric failure to thrive patient might be hospitalized initially to allow for an intensive focus on implementing a comprehensive medical, psychosocial and behavioral treatment plan.
Speak To Our Compassionate Team About Failure To Thrive
Failure to thrive can have a serious adverse impact on an elderly person’s quality of life. It can also place a big burden on their caregivers. Thankfully, families do not have to deal with this condition on their own. If your loved one is experiencing failure to thrive, speak to the compassionate team of in-home care experts at Comfort Home Care. Their professionals can evaluate your loved one and explain how their services can help get them back on the path toward good health, offering assistance with everything from feeding and dressing to exercising and getting social stimulation.