A study conducted by the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force showed a disturbingly high percentage of seniors in Canada, who are admitted to hospitals for other conditions, are suffering from some degree of malnutrition.
39% of admitted patients 65 or older were classified as moderately malnourished, and 12.5% were severely malnourished. These numbers are significantly higher than those of the admitted patients in the study under the age of 65.
This data makes it very clear that many seniors are not receiving adequate nutritional care. It is also reasonable to suggest that this is contributing, in some measure, to many of the conditions (gastrointestinal, respiratory, cardiovascular) that lead to hospital admissions.
Seniors, and everyone involved in their care, need to develop a greater understanding of the unique nutritional dynamics of this age group. But there also needs to be a sensitivity and knowledge of the challenges many seniors have with the eating process itself. 32% of the seniors surveyed had problems with cutting, chewing or swallowing their food, and 12% said that there was not enough time to eat a full meal. After being discharged from the hospital and returning to their previous living situation, an alarming 32% of seniors surveyed lost over 5lbs within one month.
Dr. Heather Keller, co-author of this study notes that within our healthcare system, “nutrition is often seen as a lower priority therapy”, with fewer than 1% of government homecare visits involving dieticians.
There is a monumental opportunity for properly trained caregivers and home care nurses to assist with meals and make a truly significant difference at mealtime for seniors living at home.
At Qualicare Ottawa we can help Ottawa seniors meet their nutritional needs at home. Please contact us for more information.
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