Sally Perkins, Freelance Writer and Content Manager.
Tackling malnutrition not only involves promoting good eating habits, but also making use of pioneering technologies to help seniors eat better and live a high quality of life. Malnutrition is a phenomenon that affects seniors in the UK with nearly 1.3 million people over the age of 65 suffering from the condition. Pereira’s 2015 study also indicates that 1 out of 6 seniors brought to emergency care is malnourished. Nowhere is proper nutrition more crucial than among vulnerable groups of the society such as the elderly.
Causes of Lack of Nutrition Among the Elderly
The process of aging encourages malnutrition. It affects the taste acuity and smell of the elderly which in turn is linked to a poor nutritional intake. Declining dental health also has an impact on food consumption. Other risk factors for malnutrition among mature adults include medical issues such as respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological or endocrine disorders. A senior who is suffering from a neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s disease will likely suffer from malnutrition. Lifestyle and social factors such as isolation & loneliness, poverty and lack of independence also influence how well or badly seniors eat. Confusion, depression, anxiety and depression are contributing features to malnutrition as well.
What Can Be Done to Enhance Nutrition?
Nutritional issues may be hard to detect among seniors which is why the first step is to identify those who are at high risk. Nutritional screening can be done by medical professionals and primary caregivers. There are several tools that can assess if a senior is at risk or not using standard screening questionnaires to find out those who are at high risk for acute malnutrition.
A faster way to detect the condition is to use apps and calorie counters that can assist in tracking what the elderly put in their bodies. The UK’s NANA or Novel Assessment of Nutrition in Ageing helps track the dietary intake of seniors at their homes. It empowers seniors and their caregivers to monitor and manage nutrition by themselves.
Online recipes can encourage seniors to cook for themselves while shopping for food through the net solves mobility issues affecting adults that act as barriers to good nutrition. Reminders on apps and smartphones can also alert the elderly when they should eat or take their medications as well as promote healthy eating habits.
In Europe, Cordongris aims at helping older people maintain their health by keeping track of what they eat and suggesting meal plans that are budget-friendly. On top of assistance in meal planning, grocery shopping is also part of the friendly-user interface. The system includes the use of sensors to track and report activities, recommend balanced-meals and appropriate retailers & service providers.
Proper nutrition is an important aspect of the elderly’s health. By using support programs and technology to promote good nutrition among the weaker members of society, it is easier to supervise the health of seniors and intervene quickly to reduce malnutrition.