In its recent newsletter, the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) published a warning that malnutrition is an unrecognized danger to the health of seniors. The report mostly takes a public policy approach to the malnutrition problem, but dentures are another important part of ensuring seniors get a healthy, nutritious diet.
The scope of the malnutrition problem among seniors is staggering. Surveys have shown that about 16% of seniors are suffering from malnutrition, while over 60% either have malnutrition or are at risk of malnutrition.
Malnutrition puts seniors at risk for many health conditions. Among seniors being admitted to the hospital, malnutrition rates are even higher–about a third of those admitted to the hospital have malnutrition. Seniors who are malnutritioned also have worse outcomes from hospital stays and are more likely to have longer hospital stays.
Remember, malnutrition isn’t just about calories. It is possible for seniors to be overweight and still malnutritioned. Malnutrition is a condition that affects seniors of all body types.
The problem of malnutrition is a complicated one, and it would be nice if the response of the GSA were equally complicated. However, the GSA report focuses on a simple policy issue: the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, which they say should include more support for services like nutrition counseling and screening.
But an important factor in nutrition is dentures. Studies show that eating difficulties make a senior more likely to develop malnutrition–38% of people with difficulty eating suffer from malnutrition.
Denture problems such as ineffectual chewing and denture pain are a major contributor to eating difficulties. Economy dentures can make it hard to chew, which will reduce a person’s intake of harder-to-chew foods like fruits and vegetables. Poor dentures can also interfere with taste, and may make a person less likely to enjoy a variety of foods. They can even make a person less likely to eat out (or in) with friends and family. Overall enjoying food less increases the risk of malnutrition.
Better quality dentures can reduce malnutrition risk.
If you would like to learn how better dentures can improve your life or that of someone you love, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment with a Philadelphia denture dentist at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.
Dental Excellence of Blue Bell