At Right at Home Solent, assessing the Nutrition and Hydration of our clients is something we do in our initial care assessments and regularly thereafter. This past week, we’ve been reading about the ‘Paperweight Armband’ – a creative initiative brought about by Salford Together and Salford Age UK who are aiming to tack malnutrition.
Generally, in the UK it is unlikely for someone to develop malnutrition from inadequate food consumption. Although anyone can be at risk from developing this condition, the high risk categories are children and the elderly.
What is malnutrition?
Malnutrition is a serious health condition where a person does not have enough nutrients in their body. In the UK around one in three people, who are admitted to hospital or care homes, are found to be malnourished or at high risk.
Malnutrition can become dangerous and can lead to hospital admission.
What are the causes?
- A lack of appetite due to other medical conditions such as cancer
- A mental health condition such as depression
- A health condition that affects the body’s digestive system (e.g. Crohn’s disease)
- An eating disorder
- Dysphagia – a condition that affects a person’s swallow
- Certain medication can increase the chance of malnutrition
- The risk also increases when the body is in recovery (e.g. after an operation)
- Physical factors such as teeth being in a poor condition, ill-fitting dentures or even new physical impairments as mobility decreases
- Social factors such as living alone or being socially isolated
What are the signs?
- Unintentional weight loss – the most common symptom
- Weak muscles or muscle wastage
- Low mood
- Increased level of illness or infection
How do you treat it?
The best method of treatment would be to speak to your GP regarding your concerns. Your GP may refer you to a dietician who could advise on the changes that can be made to your diet. This might include adding supplementary drinks such as Complan or Fortisip to your diet or vitamin tablets.
Malnutrition as a result of an eating disorder may require mental health intervention such as counselling.
Salford Together, Salford Age UK and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust have created an armband that assesses whether someone is at a high nutritional risk. The band goes onto the non-dominant hand and if you can move it up and down your arm easily, it’s a good indicator that your BMI (Body Mass Index) is under 20. Generally, when someone’s BMI is under 20, it could mean they are underweight.
Here at Right at Home Solent we are always looking into new research and ideas that can help our clients. We try and incorporate all aspects of this into the way we care for our clients, ensuring that they are as healthy as well as happy is crucial. If you or anyone you know could benefit from our services, please get in touch with us on 01329 233755 or alternatively email me on [email protected].