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Combatting Senior Malnutrition

There’s a large percentage of Canadian seniors who are suffering from malnutrition and inadequate nutritional care. And since proper nutrition is critical to overall health, many seniors are experiencing increased health risks such as infection, muscle fractures, poor wound healing, among other serious conditions. Caused by a combination of social, physical and psychological issues, this points to the need for better senior care. Here, we look at how malnutrition starts and the ways to help combat senior malnutrition.

How It Begins

Seniors often have health problems that lead to decreased appetite and difficulties eating. Problems with dementia, Alzheimer’s, dental problems, and medications make it difficult for seniors to remember to eat, swallow food, and absorb the right nutrients that they need. They may also have limited income that makes it challenging for them to afford groceries. Many often end up eating alone too, which makes it a deterrent to bother cooking meals. The problem is deepened with lack of mobility, loneliness, grief, and other feelings that lead to depression and loss of appetite.

How It Can Be Addressed

The problem is also bigger than we think. A study conducted by the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force found that 39% of seniors admitted to hospital experienced moderate malnutrition and 12.5% were severely malnourished. Those are scary stats that point to a serious issue amoung senior care. It’s clear that seniors, their family members, and their caregivers need to gain more knowledge around senior health and the appropriate care when it comes to nutrition. Diet and proper eating routines need to be put in place and monitored carefully. Proper training and education also need to be conducted with family members and those working in senior centres.

How To Spot It

Malnutrition isn’t always easy to spot but uncovering some of the signs early on can help prevent further complications. Start by observing your loved one’s eating habits. Find out how they obtain their food, who they eat with, and ask about their shopping habits to see if they are getting the right amount of nutrition. You should also check for any weight loss by observing how their clothing fits. Medication can also be a factor that can affect their appetite and eating patterns.

What You Can Do To Help

Help them form a meal plan that encourages a diet that is full of nutrients. Arrange for a family member or a friend to spend time cooking and sharing meals with them as well. And if you notice health problems associated with malnutrition, speak to their doctor to find out if any of their medications are affecting their health and if they can be screened for this.

Malnutrition can drastically impact the health of seniors. If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of poor nutrition, speak to a doctor immediately and consider hiring a professional caregiver who can provide the services needed for optimal care at home.


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