Home Instead Senior Care is launching an initiative to tackle malnutrition in Britain’s older generations, as new research shows almost three in ten (27%) over 75s don’t think they need to eat as much now they are older.
Half of over 75s (50%) eat smaller meals and more than a third (34%) regularly skip meals (i.e. once a week or more), with 10% saying they don’t have as much money to spend on food and 12% losing weight as a result of getting older, according to the independent research1 commissioned by the national home care provider.
The new YouGov survey of 1013 adults aged 50+ across Britain was commissioned after previous Home Instead research found that more than a quarter (26%) of people looking for home care support for elderly relatives were worried about what, how much and with who their relatives were eating3 – making it their biggest worry.
In response Home Instead is launching the national Stay Nourished campaign, designed in consultation with specialists at Bournemouth University’s Ageing and Dementia Research Centre. It will help families and CAREGivers understand the importance of nutrition, how to spot malnutrition in the elderly and help dispel misconceptions around diet and appetite as we age.
According to other research, around one-in-ten (about 1.3 million) older people in the UK are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition – with malnutrition costing the NHS an estimated £19.6bn a year2.
Martin Jones, managing director of Home Instead, which provides home care support for 13,000 older people across the UK, said: “Food and nutrition play such an important role in our wellbeing and health – particularly as we get older. Malnutrition is a serious issue, which is compounded by, and exacerbates, other serious health issues often experienced by older people.”
Professor Jane Murphy, Professor of Nutrition at Bournemouth University, said: “It’s a myth to assume that losing weight and becoming frail are an inevitable or natural part of the ageing process. Malnutrition is largely preventable and treatable, and yet this growing problem for our ageing population is often overshadowed by the health concerns of obesity. Awareness training for care professionals and families will lead to better understanding, detection and earlier diagnosis.”
Martin continued: “Becoming malnourished is a significant threat to health as we age and the research shows this is a concern for families across the country. Food and nutrition isn’t just a personal responsibility. We can all help by recognising when someone is struggling to prepare meals themselves, or when they are losing interest in eating. By knowing what to look out for, and what nutrition requirements look like, we can help ensure our elderly relatives stay nourished and hydrated, keeping them healthy and out of hospital. We have 190 offices across the UK and we’re encouraging people in these communities to learn about correct nutrition for elderly care and to have the confidence to discuss food and eating with their relatives.”
Teams from Home Instead offices across the country will be offering free sessions in their local communities to give families advice on nutrition for older people. The campaign will also help CAREGivers encourage the enjoyment of food and spot potential signs of malnutrition.