Elderly people are at a higher risk of becoming malnourished, due to the increased likelihood of them having pre-existing conditions—such as dementia, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and depression—or as a side effect of medication they are taking. Research conducted by BAPEN between 2007 and 2011 found that, although malnutrition was more common amongst those admitted from hospital to and from other care homes than amongst those who were living in their own home, 30% of those living in their own home still suffered from malnutrition. Therefore, if you have an elderly loved one who lives independently, take time to ensure their diet is in order.
At Cera, we have written this article to provide you with the resources you need to understand elderly nutrition, the symptoms and causes of malnutrition, as well as how to take action to prevent it.
What Causes Malnutrition?
Malnutrition occurs when someone isn’t eating enough healthy food; there are a number of things that affect the amount and quality of food that elderly people eat.
The elderly may not be able to shop or cook for themselves, due to poor mobility or conditions they have, such as dementia. In cases where an elderly person can shop and cook for themselves, they may still choose not to, due to ever-increasing difficulty in performing these tasks.
Medication can also decrease one’s appetite or affect the taste and smell of food. For the elderly, certain conditions, such as cancer, might make chewing and swallowing very difficult and even painful. Your loved one may therefore choose not to eat because of the discomfort now associated with it.
One additional cause for a lowered appetite could be depression. Mealtimes are often associated with social occasions and spending time with family and friends. Elderly people who mostly eat alone may therefore, lose their interest in cooking proper meals just for themselves, or eating at all.
The Effects of Malnutrition on Health
Malnutrition in the elderly can lead to a number of health concerns, including:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Problems with memory
- Unintentional weight loss
- A weak immune system
- Muscle weakness (which could lead to falls)
Health problems caused by malnutrition can lead to an emergency visit to the doctor, or in the worst cases, hospital admission.
How to Avoid Malnutrition
You should definitely speak to your loved one’s GP if you think they might be at risk of malnutrition. Signs you can look out for are: an empty refrigerator, poor eating habits and sudden weight loss.
Cera’s Professional Carers can help prepare a nutritious meal for your loved one, based on their preferences and nutritional needs. We also now offer food delivery to their home from our partner Deliveroo, so you can be assured that your loved one is receiving nutritious meals even when you or their carer are not there.
Deliveroo partner with the best restaurants in the business – from local hotspots to national favourites – and bring you the food you love, right to your door. You can order either on the website or by using the Deliveroo app. Simply add your postcode to find all the great restaurants delivering in your area, choose your food and place your order. Once the restaurant receives your order, they’ll get to work preparing your food and then carefully package it. Once it’s all ready to go, a Deliveroo rider will pick it up and bring it to you.
Call us now to discuss our food delivery services further on 020 3034 4784.