As we age, our bodies change, along with the nutritional requirements needed for us to stay healthy. Seniors may need fewer calories, but not at the cost of nutrition, which can lead to what’s been termed ‘hidden hunger’, which is why as we age, it becomes more important than ever to ensure we’re eating healthy balanced meals and more protein. Good nutrition is important, no matter what your age. It not only provides your body with energy, but also helps you maintain a healthy weight. More importantly though, eating nutrient rich foods may help prevent disease such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and high blood pressure to name a few.
At Home Care Assistance, we put your health and wellbeing first, making sure that maintaining a balanced, nutritional diet is a fundamental pillar when it comes to your care. From the age of 65, weakness and frailty can begin to set in, which is why nutrition and more importantly, protein, plays a key role in maintaining strong bones and muscles, and ultimately allows us to function. Through our Balanced Care Method™ 1 we understand the importance of diet, exercise, mental engagement and social ties to reduce stress and create the best life. Considering the tenants of the Balanced Care Method™ every step of the way, we offer personal care assistance and lifestyle support to seniors, of which nutrition, meal
preparation and cooking is key.
What is malnutrition and how can it be avoided?
Also known as micronutrient deficiency, the term ‘hidden hunger’ refers to a form of malnutrition, that sees a lack of essential nutrients in seniors, something that can have devastating consequences on their overall health. It’s particularly concerning for older adults due to age-related issues that impact nutrient absorption, metabolism and regular eating patterns. (Roberts et al., 1994) 2
Malnutrition is a major public health issue in Australia, particularly for older Australians. Research has shown that approximately 50% of older Australians in aged care and in the community, are either at risk of malnutrition or are malnourished 3 . Screening and monitoring for malnutrition is vitally important, and early detection can prevent the need for major treatments in the future.
What are the symptoms of malnutrition?
Malnutrition doesn’t just happen. It is something slow and insidious as it takes hold.
Symptoms of malnutrition include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Muscle loss
- Hair loss
- Pale skin
- Fatigue or mental confusion
- Poor wound healing
What causes malnutrition in seniors?
Some people have special nutritional needs and need to choose foods more carefully to prevent malnutrition, however, older people are more at risk of malnutrition for the following reasons:
- Psychological distress and/or dementia
- Shopping or cooking difficulties
- Reduced nutrient absorption
- Dental and problems chewing
- Changes in how foods taste and smell
- Medication interactions
- Social isolation
- Lack of variety
- Financial constraints
Prevention is better than cure
When it comes to our nutritional needs and more importantly the needs of the seniors in our lives, prevention is always better than cure. Here are a few points to consider when it comes to helping prevent malnutrition and living a happy, healthy life:
- Prepare meals for them ahead of time or order them a meal delivery programme
- Offer to pick up groceries and make sure they have healthy snacks and proteins to eat between meals
- Talk to the doctor about nutritional supplements such as shakes or drinks
- Help with getting regular physical activity which can improve appetite and strengthen the body
- Start a food diary
- Where mental health is a concern, connection with family or friends at mealtimes is important – both physically or virtually by video call or phone
- Enlist the help of a qualified dietician
When it comes to a loved one’s nutritional needs, communication is key. Talk. Take a careful look at their health and eating habits for any signs of ‘hidden hunger’, then make changes to ensure a happy, healthy mind and body for your loved one aging in place.
Support of an in-home care agency like Home Care Assistance, can bring enormous benefit and comfort to your quality of life while living independently at home. Home Care Assistance has viable solutions when it comes to supporting independent living. For more information, get in touch with a Home Care Assistance near you today.
Join Our Newsletter
Our Latest News
As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.