Seven simple malnutrition safeguards

October 5, 2023
October 4, 2023
An older couple laughing and walking through a park

There are things you can do that could help reduce the risk, especially if there’s a reduction in appetite. BlueCare Allied Health Statewide Dietetic Lead, Caitlin Fulford, explains.

“Feeling less hungry is often a natural part of ageing – and that’s mainly because we tend to be less physically active than when we were younger,” says Caitlin.

“The watchout? If we eat less, it still needs to be rich in variety of nutrients.

“In fact, contrary to popular belief, older people actually need more protein, calcium and Vitamin D than younger adults.”

If you, anyone you know or anyone in your care is starting to become a little picky with their food, or struggling to eat three meals a day, here are some simple strategies that can help stop someone tipping into nutritional deficiency or malnutrition.

  1. Reduce portion sizes and eat 6-8 smaller snack-sized meals throughout the day. Because if confronted with a portion that’s too large, it can be overwhelming and hard to eat.
  2. Check that there’s lots of nutritious, protein rich snacks to hand such as cheese sticks, custard, fruit buns, hearty soup, baked beans - even a bowl of cereal topped with dairy or plant milk or Greek yoghurt with a drizzle of honey is a good option.
  3. Dehydration can reduce appetite. Ideally, everyone should drink 6-8 cups of water/day but fluids can also include fruit or vegetable juice or smoothies, dairy or plant milk, coffee, tea, soup.
  4. Regular exercise may help increase appetite – of course if it’s safe to do so and your/their GP has OK’d it. Even a short walk can help, if that’s suitable.
  5. If the sense of taste/smell has reduced – which can occur over the age of 60 – then herbs and spices are a great way to flavour food.
  6. As we get older, our fine motor skills can suffer, and, alongside conditions like arthritis can make it hard to use cutlery. If that’s the case, finger foods are ideal: for example pineapple chunks, bananas, fish fingers, cheese and crackers, hard boiled eggs, sweet potato wedges, carrots, sugar snap peas, berries, grapes, sandwiches, chicken nuggets. A BlueCare Occupational Therapist could help with making modifications and advice about equipment that can make eating easier, too.
  7. If you’re at all concerned about the possibility of nutrient deficiency or tipping into malnutrition, speak to a health professional as soon as possible..

If you’re concerned about yourself or someone else, read more about how our Allied Health Dietitians can help, and call BlueCare on 1300 258 322 to request additional information and support with accessing a Dietitian.

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