These are the lucky ones who have been diagnosed by a either doctor or other health professional.The fact is that, more than a million aged 60 and over - more than one in ten - are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition and many are undiagnosed and because the vast majority of these, 93%, live at home and their malnourishment often goes unnoticed.
“It is shocking that 1.3 million older people suffer from or are at risk of malnutrition in our country and the root of the problem doesn’t just lie with poverty. There are other contributing factors which add to the risk. Public health messages that don’t always relate to this age group; a lack of ability to shop, eat and drink at home without help. As well as loneliness and isolation, grief and bereavement, poor physical and mental health or a lack of awareness of the risks by health and social care staff.”
The Study also identified not being able to afford to eat as another cause of malnutrition, particularly for those old men and women people living in poverty and showed that over 29,000 of 65-74 year-olds admit having to cut or skip meals because they didn’t have enough money.
“We’re seeing this all the time. A lot of women have been dieting on and off all their life, or at least they've been very conscious of what they eat, and even as they become elderly they’re still chomping on the salads. Often that’s not the correct diet for someone who is ageing. They need to be trying to eat a lot more protein.”
Diane highlighted the opportunity to spot malnutrition at Christmas : “It is sometimes quite difficult to recognise that you or a loved one is unintentionally losing weight. At Christmas look out for warning signs like rings being loose and slipping off, clothes looking too big, belts needing to be tightened. Look for dental problems, loose teeth, sore mouth or loose dentures. All will make chewing and swallowing difficult or some may just have a small or general lack of appetite.”
All of this is well and good, but a new Age UK report estimates that around 200,000 old men and women aged 65 and over will spend the Christmas alone this year.