For older adults with chronic conditions, proper nutrition is more than just a good idea. It’s an essential part of managing many health problems like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and more.
That’s why the National Council on Aging (NCOA) encourages all older adults and their caregivers to take time during Malnutrition Awareness Week to learn the warning signs of malnutrition and connect with resources to stay healthy.
“Too often, older adults with chronic conditions can become malnourished because they lose their appetite, or it’s difficult for them to shop for and prepare healthy food,” said Cora Plass, Senior Director of NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging. “It’s important to understand what malnutrition looks like and take steps to get the nourishment our bodies need.”
The NCOA urges families to be aware of risk factors for malnutrition, such as chewing and swallowing difficulties and taking multiple medications, and to alert their loved one’s healthcare professional if they notice warning signs of malnutrition, such as eating poorly and unplanned weight loss.
The Gerontological Society of America confirms the challenges of good nutrition for older adults and their caregivers. In an online survey of over 1,000 people conducted by Harris Interactive in July 2015, 83 percent of patients and caregivers said they think malnutrition is a significant problem for older adults, yet only 28 percent of caregivers said they understand malnutrition very well. More than 90 percent of caregivers said they provide care for an older adult who has experienced a chronic health problem.
For seniors living with chronic conditions, malnutrition can result in the loss of muscle and other tissue, which can make it harder to recover, increase the risk for infection and falls, decrease strength, and lead to longer hospital stays.
NCOA has teamed with the Families and Work Institute and Abbott to raise awareness about malnutrition in older adults and provide practical information and tips. Free, trusted information is available at www.ncoa.org/NutritionTools.
Source: The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging, whose mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. Through innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy, NCOA is partnering with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at www.ncoa.org.