Keeping You Safe: Senior Malnutrition

Posted by Christi Reynard email

HEALTHWISE (FOX19) -  5Million seniors are currently under-nourished or malnourished in the US.  And as our population ages, researchers estimate that nearly 9.5 million seniors will experience some form of food insecurity by the year 2025, with 1 million hunger stricken.

"There is a obvious financial where people cannot afford to purchase good healthy food, but there are other reasons as well., " says Mary Bowman of Comfort Keepers.  "There are physical factors, people may have a decline, they may be managing disease and the symptoms of disease, they may have Alzheimer's."

Many times there are also emotional and social factors that could contribute to this problem, like depression, loneliness or being homebound

One 92-year-old self-proclaimed "stubborn woman" has some reasons of her own.

"I feel, I want what I want and I don't want anyone to say to me this is for you, this is good for you, I want to be able to say, I don't have to take it all the time but I should take it, see," says Ruth Copper, "but when I see ice cream, there's else in the world that I'd eat!"

"This is an interesting generation of people that we are caring for, " Mary Bowman says.  "Many of them are in their early 80's. And they did survive the great depression and they fought in world war two and they are very strong will people, and they're used to taking care of themselves. So when they see their lives changing, they are bringing those value sets that were founded during the great depression where you didn't throw away food, or just shaved off those questionable sections."

In order to make sure Ruth is eating properly and staying healthy her family looked to Comfort Keepers to provide extra support.

Ruth has been introduced to healthier options like fruits, more proteins and salads, and she's leaving the ice cream for a once-in-a-while treat.  Her caregiver also says having company is a big help.

"She doesn't have the appetite if she eats alone, so I always eat with her, So I think that makes her more comfortable," says caregiver Tondy Fredericks. "I did that with all my clients, and they eat much more healthy if they have someone to carry them along to eat."

This thought process is a part of a new initiative called W.A.T.C.H. started by Comfort Keepers to stop senior hunger

W is for watch for physical problems.

A is for ask about eating habits.

T is for talk to the senior's doctor about their nutritional needs and diseases they are managing.

C is for check with a pharmacist regarding potential drug-food interactions.

And H is for have your visits during a mealtime.

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