There are several misconceptions regarding malnutrition. For example, the idea that a person who is overweight cannot possibly be malnourished. Around the world, a huge number of people believe that living in developed countries like the U.S, U.K, Canada e.t.c have enough food to avoid this problem or condition. However, the truth is, “Malnutrition” is much more common than you might think. And, yes, people who are overweight and living in a highly developed country can suffer from this problem as well.
Why is Malnutrition Common among Elderly?
When you think about malnutrition, who comes to your mind? Many will think of the homeless person living in the city, or children who are living in poverty. However, what about elderly persons? According to researchers, malnutrition is an under reported and under recognized problem among older adults in India. Here are few shocking facts regarding malnutrition in the elderly population.
- Malnutrition can extend hospital stays by up to 4-6 extra days.
- More than 60 percent of hospitalized older adults could face malnutrition.
- Nursing home patients are especially at high risk for malnutrition.
- As many as one in two elderly adults are at risk for malnutrition.
Malnutrition can present various dangerous condition like heart disease, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Parkinson ’s and other dementia, and depression.
Disease- associated with malnutrition is often associated with protein deficiencies, which can be the cause of loss in muscle strength, known as Sarcopenia.
For an elderly, there are various reasons for malnutrition. Some of them may be hiding in plain sight. Some of which may never even have occurred to you.
Hospitals: It might sound shocking that a facility, designed to help a patient to recover at their fullest from various diseases can be the cause of malnutrition itself. It is estimated that at least one-third of the elderly patient in developed nations are already malnourished, upon admission to the hospital. It often remains undiagnosed throughout the stay and, if left untreated, about two-thirds of those patients will undergo a further decline in their nutrition situation through their hospitalization. Malnutrition also is connected with a growing risk of pressure ulcers and reduced wound healing, high infection rates, tremendous treatment costs, and increased mortality. It leads to extended hospital stays and an increased chance of readmission. A statistic shows that, approximately 2 million hospital inpatient had to extend their stays only for malnutrition in 2013, a large number of patients were seniors, particularly those who were 85 years or older.
Seniors living in elderly care facility especially vulnerable to malnutrition due to a variety of reasons. Bad dental health can make it very difficult to chew comfortably and, therefore, it’s harder to eat. In addition, elderly care facility’s caregiver/ nurses need to take-care of a huge number of patients at a time, so if someone needs help during his or her mealtime, the patient won’t get the help he/ she might be looking for. This way the patient also loses their appetite. Healthcare at home can be the best answer to this issue. Even if the patient needs to eat by a feeding tube, the professional caregiver will take care of that without any hesitation.
With the growing age, seniors distance their self from the community. With this, some elderly person may experience a loss of appetite, while others may face feelings of isolation and depression. These factors limit their desire to eat and further cause malnutrition. Those who are older and malnourished are additionally more likely to need health and social services and encounter more hospitalizations. A professional from the provider of home health care or elderly care in Kolkata not only helps the patient to consume a nutritious meal, they also provide them the much-needed companionship which encourages the patient to remain healthy mentally.
Getting enough nutrition is important for seniors to remain independent and healthy. Seniors who meet their requirements generally describe better mental acuity, active immune systems, higher energy levels and have an easier time controlling chronic illnesses.