Aging Options

U.S. seniors struggle with malnutrition

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Compared to most parts of the world, America has amazing wealth.  So why is it that more than half of American seniors seen at emergency departments are either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition?

A new study recently published in the online journal, Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that among ER patients 65 and older, 16 percent were malnourished and 60 percent were malnourished or at risk of being malnourished despite the fact that most of them had primary care doctors (95 percent), health insurance (96 percent) and a third had college educations.

Depression, inability to conveniently purchase groceries and dental problems appear to be the leading reasons for the problem.  Most of the patients had never been informed they either had malnutrition or were at risk of being malnourished.  Here’s the article.

If you are caring for an older adult, you might notice that his or her refrigerator and pantry are poorly stocked.  Stop by during meal times to see how he or she is eating.  If you have the ability to talk to his or her doctor about possible nutrition issues, find out if the doctor is concerned.  Ask questions about the effect certain medications may have on appetite.  Here’s a list of ways to recognize malnutrition and some steps to avoid it.

According to the CDC, 68 percent of Americans over 60 have a diet that “needs improvement” and for 14 percent their diet is outright “poor.” It’s estimated that 3.7 million older adults in the United States are malnourished.  While good nutrition is important at any stage in your life, it’s especially important for older adults who may be battling chronic illnesses or dementia.  Malnourished older adults are also at an increased risk for falls.  There are things to help prevent malnourishment and the first step is being aware.

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