Malnutrition in the elderly is rife. It can often go unnoticed but helping prevent starvation in Wales are our carers.
There is a common misconception that older people naturally lose weight. Causes of malnutrition, such as illness, loneliness and loss of mobility are more common.
While column inches in our national newspapers and magazines are dedicated to obesity in the young, malnutrition in the elderly is going unnoticed.
According to Age UK, more than one million people over the age of 65 are malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. The condition is often poorly understood or not dealt with properly. The condition can affect health and wellbeing. It can increase hospital admissions, and can lead to long-term health problems for otherwise healthy and independent older people.
Many people over the age of 65 may live alone and will see no point in cooking themselves a proper meal. They might instead opting for snack food or microwave meals, which means they aren’t getting the nutrients they need.
Malnutrition can also be exacerbated due to local shop closures, cuts to meals on wheels services or lunch clubs as well as illness, immobility and even bereavement.
Addressing malnutrition needs to be a key priority for everyone involved in an elderly person’s life. This is especially essential in the current climate. Many elderly folk have spent extended amounts of time at home alone due to the Coronavirus pandemic and may have not been eating properly.
Our carers are vital in helping prevent our elderly service users from starving. When visiting a service user, our carers can make them breakfast, lunch or dinner as part of their care plan. They can manage their nutritional care. They can also help them with their food shopping if needed.