The pace of the population aging around the world is increasing dramatically and transforming our societies. By 2050, the number of people aged 65 and over will have grown to approximately 1,5 billion and will outnumber children younger than five years. But according to the World Health Organization, the over 60s are not necessarily experiencing better health than previous generations of their age.
Older people and their families often have to cope with chronic diseases or they can be faced with conditions of aging like frailty, age-related muscle loss and weight loss that are often considered a normal part of aging. These conditions of aging can slowly rob people of their mobility, independence and as such, their ability to do the things they value.
Patrick Kamphuis, senior medical director at Nutricia, says: “As we are re-imagining healthcare to meet the needs of the aging population, the question to ask ourselves is whether these conditions can be mitigated?” He explains older people can experience a loss of appetite due to an underlying disease, or due to social isolation and loneliness associated with aging. The subsequent weight loss is often considered a normal part of aging, remaining undiagnosed and unaddressed, exacerbating conditions of aging like frailty.
With 33 million older people in Europe alone being malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, the effects of this on people’s lives is tremendous. And the impact on healthcare systems shouldn’t be underestimated either; malnutrition leads to higher complication rates and more hospital re-admissions, costing governments in Europe 170 billion euros every year. Patrick says: “Medical nutrition can be key to ensuring patients maintain or regain functional ability after moments of ill-health. It contributes to the long-term sustainability and affordability of care, while supporting older people to continue to engage in every day life.”
To ensure an ever greater number of older people at risk of malnutrition have access to the benefits of good nutritional care, Nutricia:
- develops innovative medical nutrition solutions that are grounded in a deep understanding of the way older people experience food and demonstrates the positive benefits for patients in clinical studies.
- embraces the power of collaboration and works closely with governments, healthcare insurers and healthcare professionals to establish medical nutrition as an essential, integral part of healthcare.