The Malnutrition Task Force welcomes the APPG on Hunger’s report, ‘Hidden hunger and malnutrition in the elderly,’ published today.
The report highlights the growing problem of malnutrition in the UK today, calling on Government, social care providers, voluntary organisations and major supermarkets to do more to tackle the issue.
It brings together evidence from a number of sources, including Age UK and Caroline Lucas MP, on behalf of Age UK Brighton and Hove, about the causes of malnutrition, the cost to the NHS and the services that exist to protect older people from hunger and malnutrition across the UK.
Among the report’s multiple recommendations are the increased use of BAPEN’s Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) to identify older people who are at risk of malnutrition, as well as calling for increased funding to community services, such as lunch clubs and meals on wheels, to provide older people with hot, nutritious meals daily.
The Malnutrition Task Force welcomes this increased focus on nutrition and hydration among our older adult population in parliament. We are calling for a proper joined up strategy that brings together the health, social care and voluntary sectors, to ensure older people get the support they need to eat well and remain independent.
Diane Jeffrey, Chair of The Malnutrition Task Force and Chairman of Age UK said:
“Malnutrition is not a word we are used to hearing in 21st century Britain, but the shocking reality is that there are more than one million older people who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. Worse still, most are hidden in plain sight in communities up and down the country.
“There are all sorts of reasons people may become malnourished in later life. For some poor health and disability means it becomes a daily struggle to shop for food, prepare meals or feed themselves. For others bereavement, depression, loneliness take their toll and people simply lose motivation to eat properly. Malnutrition too often becomes a vicious cycle as someone who becomes malnourished is at much greater risk of ill health and injury, which in turn makes it even more difficult to eat well.
“Too many older people are now walking a tightrope with no safety net. Services like lunch clubs, day centres and community transport are harder to access, meals on wheels services are disappearing and social care has been cut back to the bone. As a result more and more people are simply left to struggle without the vital help they need.
“Tackling malnutrition in our communities is an urgent problem and one that has been overlooked for far too long.”
MTF Board member and BAPEN President, Simon Gabe, spoke to BBC Breakfast this morning about the causes of malnutrition in older people and how to address it. The interview is available here.