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Offer information on malnutrition to older people, guidance suggests

23 November 2015

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GP surgeries must take an active role in ensuring that older people are not suffering from malnutrition this winter, the Patients Association urged.

When older patients with nutritional needs are discharged from hospital try to identify early with the right management pathways being put in place, the Patients Association said.

Information on malnutrition should be readily available at GP surgeries, the guidance urged, and GP practices must record how many patients in their surgery are in need of artificial nutrition (feeding via an enteral feeding tube).

This comes in light of new research that suggests almost one in four people aged 70 or older don’t always eat a hot meal daily, putting them at risk of malnutrition, according to a YouGov survey.

Lesley Carter, programme manager at the Malnutrition Task Force said: “By not regularly eating hot meals, many older people are being put at risk of malnutrition which could easily be prevented. With figures showing us one in 10 older people are suffering from or at risk of malnutrition, it’s so important to raise awareness of malnutrition amongst older people, their carers and professionals.”

The poll, of 2,004 people aged 70 or older, found that 23% of those surveyed online don’t always eat a hot meal daily, and almost one in ten (9%) eat just one hot or cold meal a day, with or without snacks, leading to concerns about malnutrition in the colder weather.

For 19%, almost one-fifth, of those surveyed who don’t eat a hot meal daily, this was down to the ‘loneliness factor’: they either said there is no point cooking a hot meal for one person, or that they sometimes eat alone and prefer eating hot meals with others.

Moreover, over half the survey’s respondents (53%) say their portion sizes are smaller today than when they were in their forties, while 36% of these say their portion sizes have halved, and 5% are eating portions just a quarter of the size they used to, the poll commissioned by Wiltshire Farm Foods revealed.