Age UK sounds warning on malnutrition in older people

Age UK and the Malnutrition Task Force have warned that the recent increases in isolation and loneliness, combined with restricted access to shopping and reduction in essential care and support could leave many more older people malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

This stark warning highlights the need for renewed efforts to identify and support older people who are at significant risk of malnutrition in the community.

There are nearly 9 million people over the age of 70 in the UK advised to ‘strictly adhere’ to the social distancing rules, and 1.28 million people of all ages being told to shield and not leave the house at all so they cannot shop for essential food and products for themselves.

Becoming malnourished can have serious health implications for older people. It increases the risk of infection, worsens any existing long-term conditions and there’s a greater risk of falls. Being malnourished also makes it harder for people to recover from an episode of ill health, a particular concern during this coronavirus pandemic.

Despite major efforts across public and voluntary sector and amongst local communities, Age UK and the Malnutrition Task Force are receiving a growing number of reports that older people are going without the food and support they need to stay well during the outbreak.

Some of these harrowing issues include:

  • older people being discharged from hospital with no food or support in place,
  • people struggling to access social care support or manage without the informal help usually available from family and friends,
  • and stress and anxiety about coping with on-going health and care needs causing people to reduce their intake of food and drink. 

Age UK’s Information & Advice line is also receiving more calls from older people who are very worried about the virus, and in some cases are too anxious to leave the house for essential supplies. Many of these people seem to be falling between-the-cracks of the different support schemes operating in local areas.

Read the article in full on the Age UK website.

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