A widespread problem with the elderly which is often overlooked, is malnutrition, a condition that comes from missing nutrients in the diet. It is easy for health care providers to ignore malnutrition when attempting to keep health care costs low, but many studies suggest that the overall cost of treating malnutrition is more expensive than providing healthy meals, to begin with.
The most common form of malnutrition is from not eating enough calories, which commonly occurs when people are unable to feed themselves or cook for themselves, problems that are both common in the elderly. Weight loss can lead to many health problems, or exacerbate existing ones, which appears to affect the elderly more than younger individuals. It is therefore essential that anyone looking after the elderly pays attention to the types of food they eat, as well as the quantity.
Malnutrition also occurs when eating lower quality food for prolonged periods, even if the calorific intake is sufficient. This can happen with an unbalanced diet, where a person may be missing fruit and vegetables, or even missing good sources of protein. Although vegetarians may insist that consuming meat is unnecessary, almost all scientific research demonstrates that eating meat is necessary to maintain a good diet and a healthy body, particularly amongst the elderly. Although nutritious foods can be more expensive, providing them remains an integral part of elderly care in society.
With many careers, it is important to remember to cook or prepare meals which are easier to digest, as many elderly persons have problems with chewing, depending on how good their teeth are, which will likely vary significantly from person to person.