More and more people around the world are growing older than ever before, yet not everyone is doing so in good health. Nutrition is an underestimated area of impact in helping older people maintain functional ability, as well as recover after moments of ill-health. On International Older Person’s Day, Nutricia highlights a report published with the Global Coalition on Aging that examines the role of nutrition as people age and call upon societies to recognize nutrition as a powerful solution to the health challenges associated with aging.
Conditions of aging, such as weight loss, declining muscle mass (sarcopenia) and frailty are often viewed as an inevitable part of growing old – and not associated with a patient’s nutritional intake. However, as we get older, nutrition becomes an even greater factor in terms of its influence on functional ability, the metric by which the World Health Organization (WHO) measures health as we age.
Prof. Dr. Juergen M. Bauer, MD, PhD explains: “Aging exhausts our reserves, which can make us more vulnerable to health conditions or traumatic health events like a fall. Nutrition is a key element in building and maintaining our reserves and can both play a role in overall health and have an impact on our recovery.”
Research has shown integrating nutritional care with medical nutrition as part of a comprehensive medical strategy helps to address and manage conditions of ageing such as weight loss, the loss of muscle and frailty. Which helps to reduce further adverse effects and consequences such as falls or other health problems, healthcare costs associated with hospitalization and readmissions as well as a further loss of independence which in turn impacts people’s quality of life.
Compared to patients who receive only routine care, patients with access to medical nutrition have between 25% and 50% fewer medical complications1, and appropriate medical nutrition care has been shown to reduce deaths by 24% compared to patients receiving standard care2.