Making nutrition a priority for the elderly

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 13 Jun 2019

Take the Strength Chair-lenge at the Abbott Ensure Gold Caregiver Campaign taking place at NU Sentral in Kuala Lumpur until Sunday. Take a seat, hold up one leg, and with only one leg on the floor, you are to stand up and hold that one-legged pose for three seconds. For those who can't do it, it indicates that they will have difficulty walking or carrying out daily activities as they grow older.

IN CONJUNCTION with Parents' Month, Abbott is looking to raise awareness on the importance of nutrition among caregivers who look after their parents via its Ensure Gold Caregiver Campaign.

The campaign was launched on June 13 with a roadshow at the concourse level of Nu Sentral in Kuala Lumpur. The roadshow ends this Sunday.

"Today, we are excited to launch the Ensure Gold Caregiver Campaign: Strength for the Moments that Matter in conjunction with Parents' Month to educate caregivers on the role of nutrition in supporting their parents' overall health and muscle strength," said Abbott Malaysia nutrition general manager Robert Cleveland.

"We want to encourage caregivers to be mindful of muscle loss in their parents and to prioritise proper nutrition in caregiving, so that their parents are able to continue doing the things they love and have renewed strengths for the moments that matter."

At the launch, University Malaya Medical Centre consultant geriatrician Prof Dr Shahrul Bahyah Kamaruzzaman shared a presentation on Importance of Nutrition in Providing Strength for the Moments that Matter, which highlighted that malnutrition is common in those aged 65 and above.

Healthy adults in their 40s start to naturally lose up to 8% of muscle mass every decade. After 70, that rate doubles to 15%. That said, it is not physically evident until caregivers notice that their parents no longer have the strength to participate in family activities.

"Elderly parents are the first to admit that they just do not have the strength to participate meaningfully with their younger family members. Malnutrition is poorly recognised and undertreated and there are many risk factors that contribute to a vicious cycle," said Prof Dr Shahrul Bahyah.

"Muscle loss is at the core of malnutrition. Caregivers need to be aware of this and provide their elderly parents with both nutritional support and increased physical activity to combat muscle deterioration," she said, adding that ensuring muscle health and strength requires a balanced diet, sufficient nutrition and exercise.

Abbott Malaysia nutrition medical director Dr Jose Rodolfo V Dimaano Jr stressed on the need for proper nutrition, including essential amino acid leucine HMB, which helps the body regain strength.

Noting that muscle loss can be slowed down and even reversed with proper nutrition, he said: "It is important that caregivers recognise the importance of incorporating the right nutrients, such as protein, vitamin D and muscle-tissue building ingredient HMB into their parents' daily diet."

The roadshow at Nu Sentral KL features the Strength Chair-lenge, a simple test where participants are asked to stand from sitting on a chair using only one leg and holding the pose for three seconds.

The test provides an indication on the likelihood of experiencing difficulty in walking or carrying out daily activities as they grow older, with those who are unable to complete the test more likely to face such issues in the future.

The test was also introduced to serve as a reminder to caregivers on the possible struggles faced by their eldery parents in completing simple everyday activities.

Visitors can participate in various other activities at the roadshow over the next four days, including health checks, a rowing game and product sampling, as well as photo-taking at a photo wall.

Apart from the Nu Sentral roadshow, Abbott will also continue to undertake various initiatives under the holistic campaign across all platforms throughout the year. This will include online and offline media components and digital platforms, as well as other community outreach activities to further boost awareness on the importance of nutrition for senior citizens among their caregivers.

"At Abbott, our goal is to help people live longer and better at all ages and stages of life through good health. To this end, we are committed to improving strength among the elderly in Malaysia and this year, we want to encourage caregivers to make this a priority as well for their parents," Cleveland added.

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