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Over-60s 'at risk of malnutrition'

Published on 28 May 2012 02:30 PM

The rising cost of food and care services is leading to more people aged 60 and over becoming malnourished, campaigners have warned.

Official figures show that 10 patients are admitted to hospital each week with malnourishment - an increase of 50% over the last five years.

Half of those who end up in hospital are aged over 60.

Experts have warned that the increase is partly down to the soaring cost of services such as meals on wheels.

In January, a report by MPs on the all-party Commons health select committee warned that almost half of councils have put up charges for home help and other services 'moderately or substantially'.

Rising energy bills also mean older people must choose between keeping warm or buying food, leaving many unable to afford a healthy diet.

A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year warned that poor home care services are putting older people at risk of malnutrition.

The group found that some home help visits were so brief that people had to choose between being washed or being fed.

Other carers did not ensure their charges were eating properly, the study found.

According to the new figures, 531 people were admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of malnutrition in 2011 - up 14% in the last year and 47% from 2007.

Thousands more patients are admitted to hospital for other reasons but turn out to be poorly fed.

Michelle Mitchell, of charity Age UK, said: 'It is estimated that one million older people living in the community are malnourished and every single case is preventable.

'Many older people feel they just doesn't have enough money for a balanced diet whilst others have practical difficulties with shopping and cooking, but the consequences of malnutrition can be very serious. In the worst cases older people can end up being admitted to hospital or take much longer to recover from illness or injury.

'Age UK is tackling the issue through its Malnutrition Taskforce which aims to address this issue right across the NHS, in residential care and in the community.

'Increased awareness of the symptoms, support for older people in the community to get a good varied diet, and ensuring older people presenting with malnutrition on admission to hospital are treated would dramatically reduce these high figures.'

Copyright Press Association 2012

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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