Oxford Health dietitians have been going out and about this week in Oxfordshire’s community hospitals raising awareness about the risks, signs and consequences of malnutrition. They have visited Wallingford and Didcot and will be in Witney on Friday.

Each day of the Malnutrition Awareness Week, October 14 – 19, has a theme,  from understanding the risks to dispelling the myths, and our team has shared the related resources across the trust sites.

“Feedback from staff has been positive,” said primary care team lead and community dietitian Dawn Goudge. She has also invited her team to share their Malnutrition Awareness Week messages on social media – look out for #MAW.

One in 10 people who are aged over 65 are malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished. For those in later life, malnutrition can have complex health repercussions and can seriously affect health and well-being.

It can lead to a weaker immune system, increased risk of infections, poor wound healing, and muscle weakness, which can result in falls and fractures. Being undernourished can also have a negative impact on someone’s quality of life due to low energy levels, dizziness and generally feeling under the weather.

Malnutrition is not an inevitable part of ageing, but unfortunately many of the common causes of malnutrition, such as illness, loneliness, and loss of mobility, can affect older people more frequently.

It is important to be on the lookout for the signs of malnutrition. The most common symptoms are a loss of appetite and unplanned weight loss. The signs and symptoms of malnutrition can be hard to recognise and so the condition often goes unnoticed. Keep an eye out for whether your clothes, rings, jewellery and dentures feel loose as these are often small signs of weight loss that might be missed.

If you are worried about unplanned weight loss, there is a quick self-screening tool that you can use online if you have access to the internet or know somebody that can help you access the internet. It takes just five minutes and will help you establish whether you are at risk of becoming malnourished.

Find out more at www.malnutritionselfscreening.org.