We are launching a national awareness campaign that will support one of the biggest challenges faced by people as they age – nutrition.
Around one-in-ten older people in the UK are thought to be malnourished or at risk of malnutrition1, and it is often one of the biggest worries for families with ageing loved ones.
In response to this, we have created Stay Nourished, a campaign that will give families advice on nutrition for older people, dispel some of the myths about eating as we age and encourage continued enjoyment of food.
Designed in consultation with specialists at Bournemouth University’s Ageing and Dementia Research Centre, our campaign will help families and CAREGivers understand the importance of nutrition and how to spot signs of malnutrition.
As part of the launch of the campaign, we commissioned independent research with YouGov 2, which looked at the eating habits of older generations in Britain. It worryingly found that:
- Three in ten (27%) over 75 think that they don’t need to eat as much now they are older.
- Over a third of over 75s (34%) regularly skip meals (i.e. once a week or more). Nearly one in ten on a daily basis (9%).
- Half of over 75s (50%) say they eat smaller meals. One in ten (10%) don’t have as much money to spend on food and 12% have lost weight as a result of getting older.
- More than half of over 75s (56%) only eat with someone else once a week or less often. Nearly one in five (19%) go three months or longer without eating a meal with someone else.
- One in five over 75s (20%) struggle to cook their own food
We commissioned the survey of 1013 adults aged 50+ after previous Home Instead research found that more than a quarter (26%) of people looking for home care support for elderly relatives were worried about what, how much and with who their relatives were eating – making it their biggest worry3.
Martin Jones, managing director of Home Instead, said: “Food and nutrition play such an important role in our wellbeing and health – particularly as we get older. Malnutrition is a serious issue, which is compounded by, and exacerbates, other serious health issues often experienced by older people.”
Professor Jane Murphy, Professor of Nutrition at Bournemouth University, said: “It’s a myth to assume that losing weight and becoming frail are an inevitable or natural part of the ageing process. Malnutrition is largely preventable and treatable, and yet this growing problem for our ageing population is often overshadowed by the health concerns of obesity. Awareness training for care professionals and families will lead to better understanding, detection and earlier diagnosis.”
Martin added: “We can all help by recognising when someone is struggling to prepare meals themselves, or when they are losing interest in eating. By knowing that to look out for, and what nutrition requirements look like, we can help ensure our elderly relatives stay nourished and hydrated, keeping them healthy and out of hospital. We have 190 195 offices across the UK and are encouraging people in these communities to learn about correct nutrition for elderly care and to have the confidence to discuss food and eating with their relatives.”
1Age UK / Malnutrition Task Force.
2 Home Instead Senior Care commissioned the survey with YouGov. All figures, unless otherwise states, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1013 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st-25th June 2018/. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 50+), of which 169 respondents were aged 75+.
32017 Home Instead Senior Care research.