Falkirk dietician warns of ‘hidden problem’ of malnourishment among older people.

A dietician from Falkirk has spoken of the need to step up support to tackle the often hidden problem of malnourishment among older people.

By Allan Crow
Monday, 17th May 2021, 7:59 am
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 7:59 am

Jen Grant is part of a team at the charity Food Train which has launched a new advice line in an attempt to secure swifter support for those aged 65 and over.

Under-nourishment among older people is an issue she believes deserves greater prominence, with worrying numbers at risk of serious health issues because of it.

Food Train’s Eat Well Age Well project, of which Jen is a part, is manning a freephone Malnutrition Advice Line with a focus on those aged 65 and over.

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Jen Grant is part of a team at the charity Food Train

They are providing crucial advice and practical information to older people themselves - or anyone concerned about an older person’s wellbeing - on how they can stay well nourished.

Jen was among those which fielded calls from people across Edinburgh and the Lothians late last year and remains part of the team as the line is opened up nationwide.

She said: “Worrying numbers of older people across Scotland suffer from - or are at risk of suffering from - malnutrition.

“There is a very real need for greater recognition of the issue, the signs of it and for action to be taken sooner to try and prevent problems worsening. The advice line is just one way in which Food Train is doing that.”

Diet advice for over 65s

Basic pointers Jen and her colleagues are giving include food-first - how to boost calorie and protein intake - while finding out more about individual circumstances so they can be pointed towards agencies and organisations which may be able to help further.

Jen added: “We gave person-centred pointers around how to increase their intake through more nourishing meals and snacks, tips around simple food swaps and food fortification.

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“We also gave advice around managing mealtimes and strategies they could use to make eating easier or more enjoyable, while also signposting local services which can provide further help.”

Research has found that one in 10 older age adults in the UK who are malnourished or at risk of malnourishment.

A loss of appetite, unplanned weight loss, difficulties eating and drinking and a lost motivation to cook can be among the signs.

Laura Cairns, Food Train’s Eat Well Age Well Project Manager, said: “We hope that people in Falkirk and across Scotland will call with any concerns they have.

“We need everyone to start simple conversations with friends and loved ones about food, cooking and their appetite. These conversations are key to discovering the problems people are experiencing and what steps can be taken to ensure there are no further problems with eating. Our advice line allows exactly that.

“Any over-65s with concerns about their own nutritional health - or a friend, relative or carer worried that someone is not eating and drinking enough or experiencing barriers or challenges around food - should get in-touch. Our advice can support older people to live better lives.”

The Malnutrition Advice line (0800 13 88 220) is open from 9am until 4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or alternatively email [email protected] at any time. More details are available at www.eatwellagewell.org.uk.

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