According to a newly published report by the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) malnutrition is an unrecognized danger to the health of seniors. Appearing in the GSA’s newsletter, the report focuses on how malnutrition contributes to serious risks for seniors, and what can and should be done to help.

An Epidemic among Seniors

dreamstime_xs_19286165Previous reports have indicated that about a third of senior patients entering the hospital have malnutrition. Surveys of the general population indicate that about 16% of seniors suffer from malnutrition, while over 60% either have malnutrition or are at risk for malnutrition.

It’s important to remember that malnutrition is not the same as calorie intake–although low calorie intake can be a type of malnutrition–and that seniors of all body types, from skinny to obese, can suffer from malnutrition.

Seniors with malnutrition are at an increased risk for many different health conditions. They are more likely to be hospitalized, and are more likely to have longer hospital stays.

The Role of Dentures in Nutrition

There are many contributing factors to the risk of malnutrition among seniors, so prevention and treatment will likely involve a wide range of interventions. The GSA report focuses on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, and increased support for services like nutrition screening and counseling.

However, dentures play a major role in a senior receiving adequate nutrition. About 38% of people with difficulty eating suffer from malnutrition. Difficulty eating is mostly associated with denture problems. Ensuring seniors have highly functional dentures helps them to eat a wider variety of foods, including raw fruits and vegetables. Properly fitting dentures can help a senior enjoy food more, and feel better about eating with friends and family, making it easier for others to encourage healthy eating habits.

If you are a senior whose dentures make it hard to get a balanced diet, or if you know someone who is, please contact a local FOY® Dentures dentist to find out how new dentures can help.