For independent living seniors, malnutrition is among the biggest challenges they meet. This is mainly due to their loneliness. Seniors living alone are unable to enjoy food. Malnutrition in general refers to state of being in poor nutrition majorly because of an imbalanced diet. In some cases, it can be caused by overconsumption of one food type at the expense of the others. This includes alcoholism. It’s also tied to some clinical conditions where specific nutrients are needed more. This partly explains why nutritional care is quite important for independent seniors living in the US.
Malnutrition has a great financial impact on average malnutrition related medical cases. In the US, it totals to around $157 billion annually. In this amount, the elderly account for over $54 billion and considering their population, this figure is too big. Also in treatment of patients suffering from malnutrition, there is a 3 times increase in care-cost. It has also been revealed that a third of US hospital admissions cases involve malnutrition while a similar proportion of them lose their nutritional status while in hospital. Due to this circumstances, malnutrition increases hospital stay by 4 to 6 days.
Solutions to malnutrition
For short-term remedies, there is need to reinforce the Senior People Act. This could be done by bringing in nutritional programs to independent seniors living in the country about improved and simple ways of fighting malnutrition. There could also be an increase in funding in order to improve the served number from the current 2.6m seniors. Moreover, we could create meal programs for home delivery and group feeding alongside with wellbeing check-ups. Oral nutritional supplements for elders with chronic conditions that require proper management should also be available. This is especially important for patients suffering from lung and heart issues. Therefore, they should be provided as part of the meals program.
Long term solutions include; incorporating hospital screening for malnutrition more so for people above the age of 65yrs. Those malnutrition and potential cases should be documented and clear prognosis should be provided. Introduction of the Affordable Care Act that will create proper screening and intervention programs. This should also include placing screening as an mandatory health test.
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