Advice and help against malnutrition
When malnutrition is mentioned, images of starving children in poor countries in Africa or Asia usually come to mind. But the problem is also widespread in this country. The elderly are particularly affected. They often experience loss of appetite and weight loss. This can increase the risk of disease. But something can be done about it.
In the elderly, loss of appetite and weight loss are often seen on a daily basis. The resulting malnutrition can increase the risk of disease. (Image: Photographee.eu/stock.adobe.com)
Malnutrition is not just a problem in poor developing countries. In Germany too, more than 1.5 million people are affected, explains the German Society for Nutritional Medicine eV (DGEM). Experts say the chronically ill, tumor patients and the elderly are particularly at risk.
Suggestions for better nutrition
As the German Society of Geriatrics (DGG) writes in a current press release, very old people generally have an increased risk of malnutrition; up to 50 percent of geriatric patients are already affected by malnutrition.
“To counter this, we need much better information on the causes and consequences of malnutrition in hospitals as well as in care facilities and retirement homes. In the event of loss of appetite and weight loss, measures must be taken immediately ”, explains Professor Dorothee Volkert, head of the“ Nutrition and Metabolism ”working group at DGG and employee at the Institute of Biomedicine of Aging of the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.
The DGG working group has now presented the new information leaflet “Eating and drinking keeps body and soul together!” Intended for doctors, patients and relatives, which aims to provide suggestions for better nutrition of the elderly.
“More specifically, we first want to make sure that those affected become aware of possible malnutrition. Many do not even know that, for example, cognitive limitations or physical weakness are directly linked to it, ”explains Prof. Volkert.
Increased risk of disease
In the elderly, loss of appetite and weight loss are common in everyday life. It is imperative that these issues be taken seriously. Possible consequences include increased risk of disease, delayed recovery, decreased muscle strength, and ultimately independence and quality of life are restricted.
“That is why those affected must react immediately and optimize their own diet”, warns Volkert.
It is also often observed that hunger and thirst go unnoticed – but in fact too little nutrients and fluids are absorbed.
“Unless a doctor prescribes otherwise, a liter and a half of water per day in the form of various drinks makes sense. In addition, every day there are products rich in protein such as dairy products, meat, fish or legumes, and snacks with nuts, fruits or cheese cubes enrich the daily diet. “
Difficulty chewing and swallowing
What experts from the DGG “Nutrition and Metabolism” working group also found: Many older people suffer from chewing and swallowing problems, have difficulty buying and preparing meals, have to eat alone or have concerns and basic fears that lead to poor nutrition being able to lead.
“No one here should be too shy to ask for appropriate support. Helping with shopping or preparing food is just one of them. If necessary, there are also special cutlery, plates or cups that facilitate meals, ”explains Dorothee Volkert.
Her advice: “Take time for all meals, observe good oral hygiene and weigh yourself regularly.” (Ad)
Author and source information
This text conforms to the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.