Today’s guest blogger is Alan Baird, the man behind the unique nutritional supplement CalBisc 100. The biscuit was a response to the chronic illness and weight-loss of a relative and combines high levels of protein, vitamins and essential minerals in an energy-dense format. CalBisc 100 is now available in pharmacies across the UK and Ireland and you can find out more on his company’s website.
This year sees the launch in England of the first national Malnutrition Prevention Programme pilot schemes.
Backed by the government, the scheme will focus on raising awareness of symptoms in the over-65s and will involve care home staff, doctors, dietitians and nursing staff in hospitals, GP surgeries and in community settings.
For many older people, especially those living alone, it is remarkably easy to fall into a state of malnourishment and even malnutrition. What triggers this off varies from person to person.
Psychological issues such as grief or loneliness, or more serious mental health problems like depression or dementia may be the cause. In other cases the source may be physical such as dental problems or medicines prescribed to treat another condition reducing appetite or causing nausea.
Once malnutrition takes hold, people can expect to experience increased ill-health, risk of infection, hospital admissions and poorer rates of recovery. Friends, neighbours, relatives and carers can all help prevent malnutrition in very simple ways. The first thing is to recognise the problem.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a guide to whether a person is the right weight or not. BMI is calculated as the person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in metres squared. A healthy BMI is in the range from 18.5 to 25, anything less than 18.5 indicates someone who is underweight.
Alternatively, if you notice that a friend or relative is visibly losing weight but they’re not trying to, then it should be a cause for concern.
So what practical steps can you take to help if you are concerned for a friend or relative?
The first thing is to try to ensure that the person drinks fluids regularly. It is easy to become dehydrated, leading to dizziness, headaches and listlessness which can reduce appetite; but be careful not to serve a large drink just before a meal.
Often it’s easier for someone to eat smaller meals more often, perhaps with nutritious snacks in between.
When you’re shopping avoid low-calorie diet choices (unless these have been recommended by a GP or dietitian) and look to include things such as cheese and full-fat or soya milk to add protein and calories.
It’s always better to eat in company so try to sit down together for a relaxed meal as often as you can. If you can only spare a few minutes on a visit, put the kettle on and have a cup of tea and a biscuit together.
Try to encourage a little exercise and fresh air, if possible, which will help to stimulate the appetite.
Finally, if approved by the person’s doctor or dietitian, then a small aperitif, half an hour before mealtime can do wonders to stimulate the appetite.
By following these simple steps we can all help reduce malnutrition in our communities. If you’d like to try a free sample of CalBisc 100, head over to the contact page of our website and simply send us a product enquiry quoting ‘Vegetarian for Life’ as the company and include your postal address in the message. The offer is limited to one sample per person and valid while stocks last.
If you are concerned about your own weight loss or that of a loved one, you should seek advice from a medical professional such as a doctor, nurse or health visitor.
Click here to calculate your Body Mass Index.