Prevention : tackling malnutrition in the elderly

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Very common in older people, undernutrition is a phenomenon that affects our western society, despite a food supply is abundant. A paradox sometimes difficult to accept, when one knows the consequences of malnutrition on the good physical health of seniors. So it is best to be properly informed about this disease, in order to be able to detect it and treat it.

What is undernutrition in the elderly ?

The undernutrition of the elderly describes a state specific nutritional. It is characterized by a lack of energy, lack of protein and certain other nutrients. Undernutrition results from a deficiency in nutritional intake, can no longer meet the needs of the older person. In France, 4 % of the population aged 70 years and over, living at home, suffers from undernutrition. The figure is above 15% for the elderly in a specialized institution. It is further estimated to 45 % the number of older people presenting to a real risk of under-nutrition in our country.

Why this phenomenon exists ?

The specialists of undernutrition among the seniors put forward a number of hypotheses to try to explain this phenomenon. The lack of appetite, sometimes with a taste as modified by the taking of drugs, and mechanical problems to chew and swallow are the first two causes that may lead the seniors to reduce their power. Depression (closely linked to loneliness) and the dependence also promote malnutrition. With age, the elderly also tend to underestimate their nutritional needs, their daily activity is often less energy intensive than in the past. The lack of funding finally explains, in some cases, the undernutrition of older people.

What are the consequences of undernutrition ?

Undernutrition causes in the elderly a reduction of the immune defences. Any senior in the state of undernutrition is exposed to infections more virulent and complications. It also increases significantly the duration of his recovery in case of illness. Undernutrition in the elderly has also resulted in the decrease in muscle strength. In some situations, it may even be the cause of a death, when the body no longer has the nutritional intake necessary to be able to fight a disease.

How to prevent malnutrition in the elderly ?

It is a general rule to the families and friends that return the load to prevent the undernutrition of older people. The elderly, for their part, do not notice, in fact, that is rarely the evolution of their state of undernutrition. In all cases, a rapid weight loss and significant at a senior should be a warning signal to take it seriously. It is then advisable to place the elderly person in the hands of a professional power supply capable of advising of meals. It is also important to increase the visits, especially at mealtimes, to encourage the older person to feed. The delivery of meals can also be a solution to put in place to prevent the undernutrition of older people. Finally, note that a good supply of older workers, on a daily basis, often allows delay the onset of diseases, such as disorders osteo-articular diseases rights to gastroenterology, diseases of the lungs, diseases of the vision, diabetes, cholesterol, incontinence of the elderly, hearing problems, heart disease, even some cancers.

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