Malnutrition in the elderly on the increase

As a currently practicing Registered Nurse with a qualification in nutrition I continue to have a real interest in the damaging effects of malnutrition on health and illness in all sectors of the population.

The elderly are a particularly vulnerable group who have been hit hard by the cuts in health and social care budgets around the country. According to official figures, printed in The Times last week, malnutrition has tripled in a decade. Vulnerable people, particularly the elderly are going hungry and become undernourished – to such an extent that they end up in hospital. Many patients arrive following a fall or an infection and doctors acknowledge that malnutrition would have contributed. I was shocked to read this, after all, who would believe that in modern society, disadvantaged individuals become so underfed that they end up being hospitalised?

However, we must not forget that there are often mitigating circumstances. Conditions such as dementia have an effect on the appeal of food and what it looks like on the plate. The colour red has been found to help stimulate those with dementia to eat. This condition also leads to a desire to have sweet foods such as cakes and biscuits. These are high in calories but low in nutritional content, so a piece of fruit is much more healthy but more likely to be found quietly decaying in the fruit bowl. Medications can also lead to less desire to eat healthily, some may leave a metallic taste in the mouth or alter the perception of taste altogether.

There are numerous other examples I could give, and there isn’t the scope for that here. But, what I will do is remind you of how seriously we at Eximius take the issue of providing well prepared, high quality meals for our clients. Fresh food is always cooked from scratch by the support companion in your home. They are trained in the basic nutrition standards in the Care Certificate but as a part of their continued training with us they attend a specialised cookery course from an expert – Tammy Mariaux.

Tammy, is a dear friend and professional chef with some 20-odd years experience running kitchens up and down the country.

Sitting down to a scrumptious home-cooked meal is one of life’s essential pleasures. Delicious food is satisfying and memorable, as good for the soul as it is the body.

It’s the reason why Tammy makes sure that our support companions can master those satisfying staples. From perfect poached eggs (the small pleasure of watching the golden yolk spill under the knife never grows old) to bigger, heartier meals that complement each other in flavour, colour and texture.

Tammy also shares important tricks of the trade – clever shortcuts that speed up work in the kitchen. Other tricks include how to transform simple sauces and meals, like a roux or spaghetti Bolognese, into a variety of mouth-watering dishes.

If cooking is a task you’d love for us to take off your hands, you can be sure that you’ll never go hungry.