Washington, D.C. – In an effort to increase awareness about malnutrition in older adults, the Alliance for Aging Research has launched a new campaign – Malnutrition & Seniors: A Hidden Threat. With support from Novartis Medical Nutrition, the Alliance is reaching out to physicians and consumers to educate them on the huge impact malnutrition can have on the health and independence of older Americans.
An estimated 3.7 million older Americans are malnourished. There are a number of medical and social factors that may lead to malnutrition. Many cases go undetected because the signs are often hidden, changes in weight and nutritional status can be subtle, and those at risk can be difficult to identify. Malnutrition and resulting weight loss in older Americans can cause a progressive decline in health, reduce physical and cognitive function, increase health care use, cause premature institutionalization, decrease independence, and increase mortality.
“The key to preventing malnutrition is identifying those at risk before resulting weight loss,” said Daniel Perry, executive director of the Alliance. “Once a person loses weight, it is much harder to prevent a decline and eventual loss of independence.” By increasing awareness of the risks and signs of malnutrition, the Alliance hopes more cases of malnutrition will be prevented and detected early.
The campaign resources include a physician guide that provides a tool for assessing the nutritional status of elderly patients, recommendations on developing an action plan for those patients who are identified as malnourished or at risk, and additional resources for the physician to pass on to their patients. The patient resource includes a quiz that tests the readers’ knowledge about malnutrition, highlighting the risks and signs, and giving some “secrets” on eating for your age.
Founded in 1986, the Alliance for Aging Research is a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of aging Americans through public and private funding of medical research and geriatric education. The Alliance combines the interest of top scientists, public officials, business executives, and foundation leaders to promote a greater national investment in research and new technologies that will prepare our nation for the coming senior boom, and improve the quality of life for today’s older generation.