Older adults run a high risk of malnutrition, but many healthcare facilities are not aware of this risk. The hidden and often ignored problem of malnutrition in the geriatric population could impose a heavy burden on hospitals, patients and taxpayers alike according to an article by The Gerontological Society of America.
The article titled “Aging Policy: Preventing and Treating Malnutrition to Improve Health and Reduce Costs” was published in the newsletter of The Gerontology Society of America. The article points at a range of possible policy interventions that can help mitigate the problem of malnutrition in the United States. The newsletter raises awareness about the nutritional challenges faced by older adults, and advocates the application of existing science to current and future policies to help improve their nutritional status.
“This issue points to a growing but still unaddressed epidemic of malnutrition — especially among older adults,” said Blancato, Head of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. He further adds, “It makes a strong case for modest but important changes in current laws which can address malnutrition and achieve the dual desirable goals of improving health and reducing health care costs.”
Malnutrition is fairly common in the elderly, and is exacerbated by longer hospital stays. However, modest changes such as greater role for registered dieticians, effective nutrition screening and counselling programs, and coverage for oral nutrition supplements for at-risk elderly individuals can be implemented to help identify and tackle this issue.