Malnutrition can occur when individuals eat too much or too little of calories or nutrients. It is estimated that a third of adults aged 65 years or older in Canada are at risk for malnutrition. A range of complications can arise due to poor nutritional status, including an increased risk of hospitalization, longer length of stay in hospital, higher risk of falls, loss of muscle strength, difficulty healing wounds, feeling tired or low mood, and an increased risk of death.
Ten factors increasing older adults’ risk of malnutrition include:
1. Changes in body function (i.e., less absorption)
2. Decreased taste/ smell and loss of hunger/ fullness cues
3. Reduced appetite
4. Taking multiple medications
5. Conditions such as cancer, chronic heart failure, or kidney disease
7. Limited income/ lack of access to food
8. Mobility issues
9. Difficulty chewing/ swallowing
10. Reduced social contact
Preventing malnutrition can help to improve the overall quality of life of older adults. The following are some steps you can take to maintain your health and reduce your risk of malnutrition:
+ Eat a variety of healthy foods each day – choose from all food groups focusing on protein, fibre, calcium, and vitamin D. Use nutritional supplement drinks as necessary.
+ Stay hydrated – make water your drink of choice! Aim for 8 cups per day.
+ Limit extra salt in your diet – flavour meals with herbs and spices instead!
+ Keep active – aim for 150 minutes of activity each week to maintain strong bones and muscles!
+ Use local services for meals if struggling with accessing or preparing meals – try Meals on Wheels or Heart to Home Meals!
For resources on how to grocery shop and prepare meals for one or two people, check out Dietitians of Canada at: https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Seniors.aspx
If you are over the age of 65 years and have concerns regarding your health or want to be proactive – call and book a Wise and Well assessment with the Georgian Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic team today!