Malnutrition Awareness Week

UK Malnutrition Awareness Week (UKMAW) is running from 11th - 17th October. Now in its fourth year it is raising awareness of the dangers, risk factors and signs of malnutrition and dehydration.

UKMAW encourages everyone to look out for their family, friends, colleagues and others in the community who are at risk of malnutrition. This year the message is Ask, Look and Listen.

Ask – If you know somebody who may be vulnerable because they are older, because they have health problems, or perhaps because they are isolated, don’t be afraid to ask them if they are eating and drinking okay. Don’t be afraid to ask about somebody’s appetite or ability to prepare food and drink, it could make all the difference and help you stop malnutrition in its tracks.

Look – Always be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of unplanned weight loss such as looser clothing, loose belts or rings or dentures. And remember you won’t always see weight loss so keep your eyes open for other signs like empty fridges and cupboards.

Listen – Listen out for what somebody is telling you about their life. It may not be about eating and drinking directly, but is it about feeling lonely, or losing interest in things that usually give them pleasure? Practice active listening and think about how the way somebody is feeling generally may affect how they are able to look after themselves.

With winter approaching many older people will find themselves at risk.  Some may be less able physically, some may be experiencing feelings of loss, bereavement, loneliness and a lack of confidence and not wanting to go out.  These can all have an impact and increase their risk of malnutrition and dehydration.

The earlier malnutrition and dehydration are spotted, the easier it is to deal with. Having a conversation with those we care for is something we can all do to help tackle preventable malnutrition and dehydration.