October 4-8,2021 is Canadian Malnutrition Awareness Week. This year’s theme is Championing Malnutrition Care. The focus of the theme is to encourage everyone to be aware of their nutritional status and to seek assistance from a Registered Dietitian when needed.
Dietitians working in the community can provide education for chronic disease prevention and management. They can assist individuals with issues such as managing blood glucose levels for those with diabetes, diet modifications for high cholesterol levels or those with heart disease, or providing strategies for those with kidney disease to help maintain kidney function and prevent malnutrition. Individuals with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable bowel syndrome or Celiac disease can also benefit from seeing a community Dietitian. Other populations where community Dietitians can help are seniors with risk factors for malnutrition as well as children with growth and development concerns. Self referrals can be made to a Dietitian in the community by calling 1-877-509-7852.
Those with a cancer diagnosis can benefit greatly from seeing a Registered Dietitian. Cancer patients are at higher risk of developing malnutrition due to side effects of treatments. It is important to maintain good nutrition and hydration throughout cancer therapy and Dietitians can provide tips for managing the side effects and meeting nutrient needs.
Residents of long term care homes can be at risk of malnutrition. Registered Dietitians assess these residents by looking at things such as weight loss, swallowing problems, appetite changes, as well as any medical conditions that may be affecting their nutrition. If you have a loved one in a personal care home and have concerns about their nutrition, ask for a referral to the facility Dietitian.
The Canadian Malnutrition Task Force has found that 45% of people admitted to hospitals for more than 48 hours are malnourished. Many of these people are frail and in many, malnutrition goes undiagnosed. This can extend hospital stays and cause return visits. The answer is an evidenced based process to detect, assess, treat, and monitor malnutrition in patients. This process is designed to involve all members of the health care team in treating malnutrition. Prairie Mountain Health has implemented processes where patients are screened for malnutrition on admission so that they can receive the treatment needed. Registered Dietitians are key players in malnutrition care in hospitals.
Malnutrition treatment and prevention requires a team approach. The purpose of Malnutrition Awareness week is to highlight the need for individuals to champion their own nutrition care and to seek assistance from a Registered Dietitian if you have concerns. Further information on Nutrition Services available in Prairie Mountain Health can be found on the Prairie Mountain Health website.