This blog post was contributed by Lesley Carter, Joint Head of Health Influencing at Age UK.
“How people die remains in the memory of those who live on”, Cicely Saunders (1918-2005), founder of the modern hospice movement.
Positive advances in health care and public health mean that most of us will die later in life. Hooray! Yet most of us have never had a conversation with someone we love about death and dying and actually most of us don’t really want to. I think it’s a generational thing. But this is not the best place to be – this approach will not help us cope with our own death, or that of a loved one, or to manage our own feelings during death and bereavement.
This week is Nutrition and Hydration Week, a brilliant campaign which raises awareness and celebrates food and drink as a way of maintaining health and wellbeing.
I’m certain that no-one doubts the importance of food. It gives us the nutrients we need for energy and to stay healthy; it helps us to stay sharp mentally; it can boost our wellbeing and generally keep us happy.
But let’s not just think in practical terms – the aroma of your favourite food as it drifts into the senses, and the sensations we feel as it hits our taste buds are some of the great pleasures in life. Most importantly, food is something we should continue to look forward to.
Food is so vital to every one of us and we should all strive to eat well and sufficiently throughout our lives.
However, that isn’t always the case.
Although many of us believe that malnutrition, or undernutrition, has been confined to the history books, the reality is different. In the UK, 1 in 10 older people – around 1 million altogether – are undernourished or at risk of undernourishment.
This week is Meals on Wheels Week, a great initiative that brings the care sector together to raise awareness about the importance of Meals on Wheels services.
No one should doubt the importance of Meals on Wheels. Since 1943, the year of its introduction, the service has always played an integral role in the care of the elderly and most vulnerable in society.
When you mention the word ‘malnutrition,’ many assume it is something that only happens in other countries and has been consigned to the history books in the UK.
Yet this is far from the truth.
Figures from BAPEN show 3 million people in the UK are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition and that a high number of these, around 1.3 million, are over the age of 65.
To combat this issue, the Malnutrition Task Force has bought together professionals from across health, social care and local government to work alongside charities, older people and carers to pilot a new approach.
The Malnutrition Prevention Programme sees whole communities – including local NHS trusts, hospitals, GP practices, care homes and community groups – coming together to tackle the condition. Our aim is to significantly reduce the number of people aged 65 and over in different areas across the country who are malnourished. Continue reading “Taking on malnutrition across the UK”
The Duchess of Windsor is reported to have said that you can never be too rich or too thin. I don’t know about the first but you can be too thin.
Malnutrition refers to low body weight and/or recent weight loss and it is still with us. It is far more common than most people think. It affects all ages, but older people are particularly at risk and more than a million people over the age of 65 are affected.
Today malnutrition affects more than one million older people in the UK and the associated costs are estimated to be £13bn every year. The effects are profound and malnutrition increases the risk of falls, infections and delays recovery from illness and surgery.
In June 2012, an independent Malnutrition Task Force was established to tackle malnutrition in older people in hospitals, care homes and their own home. The Malnutrition Task Force includes representation from charities, professionals, NHS, commissioners and providers and is chaired by Age UK Chairman Dianne Jeffrey.
Many cases of malnutrition can be prevented and there are many examples of good practice across the UK.Focus on Undernutrition in County Durhamis a community based project that raises awareness and helps to prevent, identify and manage people at risk of malnutrition in their own home, care homes and community hospitals. The training programme for all health and social care staff introduces simple tools for accurate assessment of malnutrition.