It is estimated that over 3 million people in the UK are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition and over 1 million are our elderly aged 65 and over. Identifying malnutrition can be challenging as many symptoms can be interpreted as signs of ageing or develop as a result of an undiagnosed medical condition. Therefore it is vital that families and healthcare providers look closely at any changes to your loved one’s person’s social, physical and mental wellbeing and involve health care professionals to ensure a correct diagnosis.
A poor diet can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult to absorb medication. Wound healing is hindered and combined with the frail muscle and bones often found in the malnourished, our elderly loved one’s will find it difficult to recover from a minor fall and cause prolonged hospital stays and pressure sores.
What are the symptoms of malnutrition?
- Physical symptoms such as dry skin and hair, brittle nails or sores around the mouth
- Reduced night vision and joint pain are signs of a lack of vitamins and minerals
- Loose clothing
- Wounds not healing
- Psychological symptoms such as increased irritability, depression and extreme tiredness
- Unexpected weight loss
- Unsteadiness whilst walking and/or repeated falls
How to help the elderly eat healthy
A balanced diet is important for our elderly – this includes adequate calorie and protein to help ensure that their body weight and BMI are maintained. Our elderly should consume:
- Carbohydrates such as brown rice, noodles, oats, wholemeal bread, potatoes and wholegrain cereal
- Proteins such as fish, chicken, meat, eggs, milk, tofu, cheese, dhal and beans
- Dietary fibre – soft fresh fruits are easy to chew and swallow – include bananas, blueberries, plums, peaches and kiwi fruit
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and broccolli
- Water – hydration is vital – the daily recommended intake is 1.5 to 2.0 litres of fluid per day or as advised by the doctor.
Did you know research shows that eating meals with others promotes better nutritional intake? Meals eaten together are 46 per cent larger than meals eaten alone plus the more people there are at mealtimes, the greater the intake.
Live in care – A personalised approach to prevention
At Independent People Homecare, we understand the importance of our elderly maintaining independence which is why so many families are now recruiting a live-in carer. A Live in carer, will work closely with families and health care professional creating a personalised nutrition plan. They can keep an eye on your loved one ensuring they are eating healthy nutritious meals. They will encourage them to go for walks, to strengthen relationships with friends and family who will keep them from feeling isolated. Our highly experienced live-in carers understand that nourished indivduals, respond to medication faster, heal faster post surgery and require fewer visits to their GP.