Looking after an elderly is more challenging than the time you spend with the newborn and/or a hyperactive toddler. Either they won’t understand how much you care for them or they will just ignore you and do what they actually like to do and make you feel guilty most times if you aren’t giving them the care they need!
I face that challenge everyday with my Dad who is almost in his 80’s and honestly, he hates me when I talk to him about eating healthy and being active. Although (and fortunately) he doesn’t face any major illness related to aging, he developed a hate against food and gets irritated when we ask him to eat on time, (let’s just say, eat and forget about ontime!!!) and I somehow know that may lead to malnutrition.
What is Malnutrition:
In simple words, it’s lack of vitamins, minerals, proteins and energy due to a poor diet or loss of appetite.
It is both the cause and result of illness and causes harm to
- body composition (weight & muscle mass)
- function (strength & stamina)
- clinical outcomes (e.g. recovery from infection)
Talking about my Dad, he was never a good eater as far as I noticed but losing his taste buds 3 years ago has dramatically reduced his interest on food and although he recovered and regained his taste buds within 4 months time, he lost his appetite.
So, eventually, it has become my great responsibility to make sure that he eats atleast a little as often he could and I try my best to make that little amount of food being healthier. I would happily accept any advice that will help me to help him. So, when I got an opportunity through Britmums to be at Abbott to get some tips on healthy eating for elderly, I rushed to grab my place.
There were speakers from different departments including Kelly Grainger, Specialist Oncology Dietitian The LOC and Ketherine Murphy, Chief Executive at the Patients Association.
It was shocking to learn a few important things that we usually ignore in our daily life!
More than 3 million people in UK are affected by malnutrition and 1 in 3 adults admitted in hospital are identified as victims of malnutrition. And do you know that the malnutrition will lead to muscle loss and subsequently leading to frailty!!!???
Malnutrition, Muscle loss and frailty doesn’t affect only the elderly and if you are thinking that the muscle loss starts after the age of 60 (just exactly how I thought), then knowing that the muscle loss starts after the age of 40 is definitely a shocking information for you and me. And, remember frailty is not just something that is associated with aging!
Dad, usually is an active person and even being at early 80’s, he loves to cycle. I actually thought his skinny legs are just the effect of aging until I learnt from the session that it could be the result of muscle loss!!! Obviously, the less strength in his legs gives him aches and pains even after a few minutes of walking or cycling and eventually he is slowly forced into being less active!!!!
It’s all a bit scary really, Isn’t it!? And, It’s our responsibility to be proactive about caring for our loved ones’ nutritional health and yes, Ours too….
Don’t worry, Malnutrition is definitely something that can be avoided. And, age related loss of muscle mass does not have to happen to you….It can be helped with diet and exercise.
The session I and other 4 bloggers attended at Abbott, sent us home with a wealth of information about how to take care of the nutritional health of our loved ones. Kelly, the Dietician and Katherine, Chief executive, UK Patients Association almost made us confident about how to look after the nutritional health of your own and your loved ones, especially if you are looking after an elderly.
We had the opportunity to meet Doreen Mills, an 87-year old woman, who was hospitalised after a fall and suffered malnutrition post discharge. But, nothing could put her down. She recovered beautifully and maintaining a very good health now by looking after her diet and oral nutritional supplement. She is an amazing lady and if you happen to see her around, don’t forget to treat her with cakes :), she LOVES CAKES 🙂
And, most importantly, we all had a chance to get ourselves into the Sarco suit to experience what age-related muscle loss can feel like and the impact it can have on everyday activities.
I will share you the tips to maintain good health of yourself and your loved ones through nutritious food and my experience with Sarco suit.
Watch out this space for more tips on how to avoid malnutrition and muscle loss.
Disclosure: I have been sponsored by Abbott to become an advocate for my dad’s nutritional health