Since the pandemic officially began in March, we’ve been told staying home is the best way to avoid catching Covid-19. And it is. But life in confinement can cause physical ailments on its own. causes nutrition issues, Being homebound for so long contorts the body, weakens the heart and lungs and even impairs brain function. The effects of life in isolation may stay with us beyond the pandemic’s end (whenever that may be).
The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to place older Americans at an increased risk for poor nutrition and its negative health impacts, according to a national coalition of more than 100 organizations and stakeholders working to defeat older adult malnutrition.
“Many older Americans are newly homebound and isolated due to COVID-19. In light of this, we are encouraging Americans to become aware of the risk of malnutrition to older Americans and how they can help to protect them from it,” said Bob Blancato, national coordinator for Defeat Malnutrition Today.
Nutrition for all
In many communities, senior centers, congregate nutrition programs and adult day care centers have closed. Blancato notes that older adults who are now homebound by COVID-19 may not have access to the food they need. Social isolation and mental health issues, which can be prompted or intensified by the pandemic, are also known to increase older adults’ malnutrition risk. In turn, studies have found that malnutrition impacts immunity, which may impact the ability to fight and recover from infections and acute illnesses like COVID-19.
In response, Defeat Malnutrition Today has launched an update to its website to provide critical information about avoiding malnutrition. Resources on the Defeat Malnutrition Today website include answers to frequently asked questions about older adult nutrition, advice on staying connected and combating social isolation, and links to federal nutrition programs that assist older adults and their families.
“Malnutrition leads to more health-related complications and falls for older Americans, while protein malnutrition in particular contributes to longer hospital stays and higher rates of death,” Blancato noted. “Working together, we must all do our part to protect the older adults in our lives from becoming malnourished during this crisis.”