NOT eating enough or eating too much of the wrong things is how many older people end up with malnutrition.
We have all heard about malnutrition in nursing homes due to bad care in most cases, but just being older puts you at risk. Even if you think eat well, you might still be at risk.
Malnutrition is dangerous. It lowers the body’s ability to fight infection. It can also make you fatigued more quickly. It affects your quality of life and ultimately your independence.
For older Australians, malnutrition often begins at home, and can go undetected until it is too late.
Reduced appetite, unplanned weight loss, looser fitting clothes and ill-fitting dentures may all be signs of the onset of malnutrition.
This is where family, friends, and care workers should not hesitate to speak up.
Understanding how our nutrition needs change as we age is vital. How you eat when you are 25 compared to 65 varies greatly as our health needs change. Too often dietitians see older Australians at risk of malnutrition because they are still eating in a similar pattern for their younger selves.
There are tools to diagnose malnutrition, but the best way to make sure you don’t get it in the first place is to see a dietician and do a plan if necessary.
There is a Medicare rebate for a consultation with a dietitian if you have complex health needs and are referred.
But anyone can go and see a dietician without a referral, although it will not be free.