Elderly At Risk Of Poor Nutrition
Nutritional And Health Problems Impact On
Elderly Men – And Women - Says Home Care Provider
A Massey University study which found Kiwi elderly men are at risk of becoming undernourished and ailing health due to poor nutrition are not surprising says a leading private home care provider.
Home Instead Senior Care looks after elderly people in their homes in Hamilton and Tauranga, and managing director, Neil Farnworth, says its not just elderly men that are at risk of health problems due to poor diet.
“It’s not just men who are eating inadequately as they age,” he says. “It is also women. We find that many of our female clients are simply eating toast or crackers for dinner. While men might be eating poorly because they are used to their wives cooking for them, we are finding that many elderly women simply lose the motivation to cook as they age or they have a fall and are unable to cook balanced meals for themselves.”
The university study found that families played a vital role in providing practical and emotional support for older men by inviting them for meals, providing transport and helping them prepare meals. However Farnworth says the growing pressures on working families to care for their elderly relative is making it harder and harder for people to provide such help.
“Historically an elderly parent was cared for by a daughter or daughter-in-law but these days a greater number of women are working and they don’t have the time or energy to care for someone else, above their children and husband, as much as they would like to.
“We are finding that more and more women in their 40s and 50s are contacting us asking for home help for a relative who wants to remain independent in their home but who is struggling with the basics like shopping, cooking and cleaning.
“We recently had a successful businesswoman contact us as she had to take time off work unexpectedly because her mother had had a fall. Her mother was well enough to be at home couldn’t get out to do her shopping or cook her own meals. As much as her daughter wanted to help, she had professional commitments that she was locked into so she rang us and we arranged for a caregiver to visit her mother and do her shopping, cooking and cleaning. Knowing her mother was being well cared for in her own home was a huge weight off her mind.”
Farnworth says many people are still not aware there is an option available to them when it comes to elderly care.
“Moving into a rest home is often the first option that springs to mind for families looking for outside assistance in caring for an ageing family member. Many families simply do not know that there is any other option available to them as the concept of purchasing private care for the elderly is relatively new to New Zealand. But our aging population and growing senior independence makes the need very real. The study by Massey University only further highlights the potential nutritional and health problems our elderly face if they are not adequately cared for or helped.”
Home Instead Senior Care was established in the USA in 1994 and is now a network of over 900 independently owned and operated franchises across Japan, Portugal, Australia, Ireland, the UK and more recently, New Zealand.
The company provides non-medical home care for senior citizens, from companionship and meal preparation to 24-hour incontinent care, transportation, shopping and light house keeping.
According to Statistics New Zealand, the 65 plus age group is projected to make up over one-quarter of our population from the late 2030s, compared with 12 percent in 2005. The largest increases in the 65 plus age group will occur in the 2020s and 2030s when the large births recorded in the 1950s and 1960s move into this age group. Already kiwis aged 65 plus have risen from 200,000 in the 1970s to over half a million in 2005.