Older people in the Harborough area may be at risk of malnutrition

The Future of Loneliness, Friends of the Elderly and Future Foundation, PPP-170315-125814001
The Future of Loneliness, Friends of the Elderly and Future Foundation, PPP-170315-125814001

A charity is warning that older people in the Harborough area could be at risk of malnutrition and is urging GPs, pharmacists, and even friends and family to be aware of the telltale signs.

Age UK says that one in ten people over the age of 65 are malnourished, or at risk of malnutrition.

A spokesman for the charity said: “It is considered by many that losing weight as you get older is ‘normal’ or even inevitable.

“This myth can prevent an older person and their friends and family from recognising when weight loss could be a problem that is affecting their health.”

The charity has created a ‘State of the Nation’ report, which it says highlights that services int he East Midlands need to adapt to the scale of the challenge around malnutrition in later life and be aware that many older people who are at risk of losing weight often live on their own and are not in contact with formal services.

Lesley Carter, Age UK’s malnutrition taskforce lead, said: “Malnutrition, in many cases, develops into a vicious circle. Someone who becomes malnourished will be at greater risk of ill health and injury, which in turn may make it more difficult to eat well.

“There are still gaps, mainly in public awareness and professional training, but the building blocks are there to create better nutrition for all older people.

“Preventing and treating malnutrition relies on increasing public awareness and professional training alongside an integrated system of health and social care, together with support for older people, their carers and families.

“There are wider economic costs caused by malnutrition in later life which could be avoided if health professionals identified the people most at risk early on. It might be that an older person simply needs some support and advice to encourage them to eat a healthy and balanced diet or a referral services which could provide them with additional help if their health was suffering as a result.

“Training of all health and social care staff, particularly GPs, is critical in developing measures to tackle malnutrition effectively.”