A new study from Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) warns that half of people with dementia are likely to end up suffering from malnutrition. This is worrying data bearing in mind that dementia affects some 800,000 people in the UK and around 1.7 million people will have dementia by 2051.
The study highlights that malnutrition affects up to 10% of older people living at home, 30% of those living in care homes, and 70% of older people in hospital. Research revealed that half of care home residents were not eating enough food and almost as many had low fluid intake, reports The Daily Telegraph.
ADI commented that the consequences of this malnutrition include "frailty, reduced mobility, skin fragility, an increased risk of falls and fractures, exacerbation of health conditions and increased mortality", highlighting that more needs to be done to tackle the issue.
Basic steps in our health and social care system could reduce this problem. For example, George McNamara, head of policy at the Alzheimer's Society, commented that "malnutrition can be avoided by healthcare professionals doing simple things such as monitoring weight and nutrition. We also need to educate caregivers and care home staff, as dementia training can be the difference between someone starving and living well with the condition."
Commenting on this recent data, Lucie Prothero, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: "It is extremely worrying to read that so many thousands of dementia patients are suffering with malnutrition. It is essential that the UK's health and social care system tackles this problem. We are seeing an increasing number of enquiries from relatives of dementia patients concerned about poor standards of health and social care, both in hospital and community-based. This poor care is resulting in patients deteriorating physically, suffering pressure sores and often suffering falls.
"This data from ADI serves to highlight the growing crisis of inadequate elderly care that faces the NHS and our social services. It is clear that there needs to be greater and improved resources to ensure proper care of dementia sufferers. The fundamentals of care must be achieved."