Health eating, healthy ageing: Geriatric nutritional risk in a rural community
Orpin, P and Boyer, K and Herne, KE, Health eating, healthy ageing: Geriatric nutritional risk in a rural community, Australasian Journal on Ageing Vol. 28 Supplement 2 November 2009, 26-27 November 2009, Canberra, pp. A68-69. (2009) [Conference Extract]
Small group and one-on-one interviews were conducted with a snowball sample of 40 individuals living and/or working within a rural community. The sample consisted of older people, service providers and community volunteers.
The study revealed that, while ample resources and infrastructure existed in the community to support social eating intervention programs, these were not being utilised, primarily because of the extremely low level of awareness of the issue of geriatric nutritional risk, not just in the wider community but also among health professionals. The study also highlighted the highly socially charged nature of meal sharing.
Geriatric nutritional risk is not going to be adequately addressed while it remains largely unnoticed and/or labelled as a normal part of ageing. Attempts to address this by educating carers and health professionals are hampered by our relatively poor understanding and evidence base around the issue. At present, prevalence measures are plagued by the lack of consistent tools and there are few quality studies exploring the link between sub-optimal geriatric nutrition and general health and wellbeing. Because meal sharing is a very personal experience, any interventions needs to be tailored to individuals, and flexible enough to take account changing patterns of social relations in a community.