Project set to tackle malnutrition
Published on 23 December 2013 01:30 PM
Malnourishment among the older population is to be confronted head on by a new government-funded venture.
The Malnutrition Prevention Project aims to increase diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition as well as improve care and support for older people to stop them 'slipping through the net'.
A total of 1 million people over the age of 65 in England suffer from or are at risk of the condition, making them susceptible to poor health.
Individuals who have a low body mass index and are underweight, or those who are losing weight without trying, will be the focus of the project. The scheme will be run by the Malnutrition Task Force, a group of experts - which includes Age UK - set up last year to address preventable malnutrition and dehydration in older people.
It is being piloted in 5 areas of the country, 2 of which, in Lambeth and Southwark in London, and Salford, will begin in January.
Losing weight is not a normal part of ageing
'Eating and drinking properly is critical to being healthy and remaining independent. Yet malnutrition goes untreated and diagnosed in nearly one million older people in England,' said Dianne Jeffrey, chairman of the Malnutrition Task Force and of Age UK.
'We hope that by working closely with hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes we can tackle this hidden problem and help ensure that older people do not slip through the net.'
People who are malnourished are known to experience increased ill-health, hospital admissions and risk of infections, while it also takes them longer to recover from surgery.
Support services will therefore raise awareness of the symptoms among older people and help them to take action before it's too late.
Hospitals, GP practices and care homes will also work with community groups to reach out to those at risk, while volunteers from local Age UK groups will be on hand to provide extra support nationwide.
Malnutrition often goes undiagnosed or untreated because of the incorrect belief that a smaller appetite and losing weight is a normal part of ageing.
Copyright Press Association 2013