How many times have you heard or read about the importance of a BMI? How many of us really know what it is? At your annual physical exam, the doctor normally calculates your body mass index (BMI) as a barometer of your overall health. A BMI tells you whether you are carrying the right amount of body fat. A BMI measures the body fat in your body in the context of your frame. It enables you to figure out if you are overweight or underweight. However, calculating BMI for the elderly is not as straightforward as you might think.
Healthy BMI in the Elderly
A high BMI indicates whether you are overweight and can warn you that you are at a higher risk of chronic diseases that are often brought on by obesity. A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) seems to reduce your risks for ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers. The problem is that a BMI can be misleading in the elderly since they tend to store fat more than muscle. With their inherent muscle loss, the ratio of body fat to muscle in this age group can be skewed and misrepresented by the standard BMI measurement. Therefore, a healthy BMI for a senior is lower than the generally acceptable range. Their weight may seem fine, but because they have more fat than muscle than their younger counterparts, they may actually be overweight.
Here is a great BMI calculator: (NOTE OF CAUTION)
WHEN MEASURING BMI FOR OLDER ADULTS YOU MUST LOOK AT THE CHART IN THE NEXT SECTION.
THE EXPLANATION OF RESULTS THAT POPS UP WITH THIS CALCULATOR ONLY APPLIES TO ADULTS UNDER 65 YEARS OF AGE. LOOK TO THE CHART BELOW THAT FOR GUIDANCE FOR THOSE OVER 65.
The health community defines an older adult as 65 and over. As you can see from the table below, there are dramatically different ranges for younger and older age groups.
Interestingly, the mortality risk is substantially different as well. The chart below demonstrates an interesting phenomenon. A BMI lower than 23 or higher than 33 in the elderly is accompanied by a higher mortality risk. While overweight and obesity are strong warning signals in younger groups, it is not as much of a concern for older adults. Much more of concern is being underweight. If you shoot for a lower BMI in the elderly, you may be entering the territory of too underweight. Professionals are increasingly recognizing this condition as a warning signal in the elderly.
The Chart Below Illustrates U-Shaped BMI/Risk of Death Curve
This U-shaped curve is well documented in numerous medical studies. At a BMI of about 27, a weight normally classified as overweight in those below 65, The risk of death in the elderly is lowest. Alternatively, at a BMI higher than 33 and lower than 23, there is significantly increased risk of mortality.
Calculating BMI in the Elderly: In Context
BMI is only one indication of good health. Therefore, you must assess the overall health of a senior in the context of a host of factors. Consequently, a full exam by a geriatrician who specializes in caring for the elderly should be able to give you a full physical and cognitive picture of the overall health of an older adult.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Helps Seniors in Bergen County
At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies in Bergen County that provide in home health care services. At DYA, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (908) 373-5300. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
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