Wednesday 23 August 2017

Losing weight in later years 'should raise alarm bells'

One in 10 people over the age of 65 is thought to be malnourished or at risk of malnutrition
One in 10 people over the age of 65 is thought to be malnourished or at risk of malnutrition

Jane Kirby

Millions of older people could be putting their health at risk by thinking it is normal to lose weight without trying as they age, experts have warned.

A survey for the Malnutrition Task Force in the UK found 36pc of over-60s think it is fine to lose weight with age, while (75pc) have never worried about themselves or another older person unintentionally losing weight.

But the task force said losing weight can be an early warning sign of malnutrition or another serious condition, such as cancer, dementia or liver disease.

It stressed getting thinner is not a normal part of ageing.

Signs and symptoms of malnutrition include tiredness, low energy, dizziness and repeated infections.

"We wrongly assume that malnutrition and dehydration belongs to the past but the reality is that poor nutrition and hydration are often not recognised by older people, families or healthcare professionals," Lesley Carter, lead for the Malnutrition Task Force, said.

"The risk of becoming undernourished increases significantly as people age and it is further complicated by the incorrect assumption within society that losing weight is a normal part of the ageing process, when it fact it should actually raise alarm bells."

One in 10 people over the age of 65 is thought to be malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

Older people most at risk often feel lonely or have had something happen, such as the death of a loved one, that can affect their appetite.

Irish Independent

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