Malnourished elderly persons place an increasing burden on the health care system – Ons Tuis supports the elderly with the Sponsor-a-Meal campaign
The impact of elderly care on the state is ever increasing, as the number of elderly persons who become reliant on the state is increasing every year.
Even though the government allocates only R1 870 per month for a state pension, the costs of medical care as a result of poorly nourished elderly persons adds an exponentially increasing amount for care of the elderly.
“The longer weak older persons stay in a hospital, the bigger the chance of them catching drug-resistant infections like drug-resistant pneumonia or septicaemia, which leads to an even longer hospital stay,” says Matron Jenny Wesson, the manager of the Ons Tuis Monument Service Centre.
The malnourishment of older persons leads to a compromised immune system and reduced bone density, which already is at risk due to the ageing process. Hips, legs, shoulders and wrists break more easily, and elders are sick more often, more seriously and for more extended periods. The recovery time also takes longer, which is another burden on the state’s health care system.
“When the elderly don’t eat healthily or enough, their muscular strength declines and their energy levels are affected,” says Mrs Lizl van Eeden, an occupational therapist specialising in geriatric care. “It leads to a diminished capacity to complete tasks and general functioning. Brain function is also affected when the body doesn’t get enough energy.”
“Elderly persons who eat well, are physically stronger and more mobile, which means they can do more, and more often do things for themselves,” she says. “An added benefit of older people having meals together in a service centre or retirement home is the opportunity to have social interaction with their peers. Socialising plays a vital role in the wellness of the elderly. Eating, as a ‘feel-good’ activity, releases serotonin, which further adds to the feeling of wellbeing.”
The Ons Tuis Monument Service Centre in Danville provides a healthy, balanced meal daily for older persons in the area. The need for healthy food for this group is urgent, and the service centre cannot supply the demand. The Sponsor-a-Meal-campaign aims to generate funds to keep the elderly well-fed and healthy to ease the burden on the health care system.
The cost of one cooked, healthy plate of food per older person adds up to R35.
Interested people can support the campaign by sponsoring a meal or by becoming a regular contributor to Ons Tuis.
To support the campaign, visit www.onstuis-otmt.org.za/borg-n-ete/.