The British Geriatrics Society welcomes the recently published report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger. The report highlights that malnutrition is most likely to arise among older people following an accumulation of setbacks – for example bereavement, illness, a loss of community transport services, and a nearby shop closing, – which leave them unable to access food easily.
Geriatric medicine has always recognised the importance of nutrition and sufficient intake of food and fluid in patient care. We hope that as a matter of urgency Government will seek to address the recommendations from the APPG so that malnutrition in older people, and those at risk of malnutrition, is identified and treated as quickly as possible. It is vital that the existing knowledge and expertise relating to the treatment of malnutrition is put into practice. The benefits of ensuring that preventative steps are taken at as early a stage as possible are significant in ensuring better health outcomes for older people.
We recognise that this is a complex issue which requires investment, not only in ensuring that the expert guidance that exists for health and social care professionals is followed, but also in tackling some of the systemic barriers that currently prevent identification of older people at risk, such as those experiencing loneliness and social isolation.
Dr Eileen Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society and a Clinical Director in Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, commented:
“Many older people admitted to hospital show signs of not eating or drinking well enough, especially if they suffer with dementia. As well as being an issue in its own right this also predisposes the older person to falls and increases their susceptibility to infections. BGS endorses the call for better identification and management of malnutrition among older people.”