Lanark businessman Alan Barr has his finger on the pulse of elderly care this winter
More than 50 per cent of over 75s eat less food than they used to and one in five haven't eaten a meal with anyone else for three months or longer.
Additionally, one fifth of over 75s (20 per cent) are struggling to cook their own food and over a third (34 per cent) admit regularly skipping meals at least once a week, with nearly one in ten doing so on a daily basis.
The shocking figures were revealed following an independent survey by Home Instead Senior Care.
Run by businessman Alan Barr, from Lanark, the findings prompted him to launch a new stay nourished campaign.
Alan has created booklets to help clients, elderly people, their carers and families across Clydesdale.
And he is hoping local businesses will get involved too by hosting community workshops to deliver the stay nourished message.
Alan said: “We want to bring back the love of food for older people.
“At Home Instead, we ensure our clients eat well but not all older people have this support and families can often struggle to encourage elderly relatives to eat healthy meals regularly.
“As people age they experience changes to their sense of smell, taste and vision. This combined with health issues and living alone can all impact on an elderly person’s desire to eat.
“Many elderly people have told us they have less desire to eat or don’t feel hungry when they are eating alone.
“However, good nutrition is essential in helping older people live well.
“The guidance we are providing as part of the stay nourished campaign looks at all aspects of healthy eating, malnutrition, food hygiene, food preparation and cooking methods.
“We are committed to helping older people – regardless of whether they are Home Instead clients – to eat, drink and age well.”
Home Instead Senior Care is keen to deliver community workshops to local businesses, groups and organisations and is encouraging people to get in touch to book a free session.
Last month, as part of the campaign, Home Instead also sponsored lunches for a week at the Cargill Club in Lanark’s Memorial Hall.
Set up in 1968 to provide recreational, educational and social facilities, it now caters for 120 members aged 50 and over every week.
Open from 9am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday, it was an ideal venue for the stay nourished campaign.
Alan said: “It’s nice to be able to give something back to the community in which I was born and bred.
“The Cargill Club does a tremendous job every week of the year.
“So we were more than happy to pay for its weekly food bill and give a bit back to the older community.
“It also gave us a chance to deliver the stay nourished campaign message, ensuring that its members know how important it is to stay nourished, particularly in the winter months.”
Next year, Alan is also hoping to tie in with the community trust at the town’s Castlebank Park to host events.
He said: “The park is a fantastic facility, offering a range of opportunities for the elderly – be it gardening or just enjoying a nice walk in the fresh air.
“We’d like to organise some events with the trust, be that a dementia cafe, drop-in sessions or a music club.
“It’s still in the early planning stages but we’re hoping to build links with the trust to host events next spring or summer.”
In the meantime, Alan is keen to hear from any local businesses who would like to host a stay nourished community workshop.
He added: “The aim of the campaign is to help educate the local community about the importance of nutrition, how to spot malnutrition and dispel misconceptions around diet and appetite for the older generation.
“This knowledge will hopefully give families the confidence to talk openly to their elderly relatives about food and nutrition.
“Home Instead clients have already been given advice and nutrition guides to help them eat healthily and avoid illness through poor nutrition this winter.
“But we now want to share this knowledge with a wider audience and reach as many older people as possible.”
When Alan’s wife died, he had three young children to look after so he wanted to work from home in Lanark.
As his own mum suffered from dementia, he knew how much of a struggle it was to find suitable care.
So he founded Home Instead Senior Care in 2016 and it now has 50 clients across South Lanarkshire.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care or the stay nourished campaign, call 01555 666474 or visit www.homeinstead.co.uk/southlanarkshire.