Aging Well Highlights Warning Signs of Elder Malnutrition

The health risks and warning signs of elder malnutrition were recently featured topics on Aging Well, a monthly production of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).

More than 20% of older adults are malnourished, putting them at risk for a wide range of health problems, explained SCES Dietitian Andrea Svartstrom. The percentages are even higher for older adults who are hospitalized, in rehab centers or living in nursing homes, she added.

“Malnutrition is very prevalent among older adults and it’s an important issue,” said Svartstrom. “The body changes so much naturally with age, which puts older adults at greater risk. Often it goes undiagnosed and untreated, causing health problems, so it’s important to be aware and prevent that from happening.”

Common causes of malnutrition include physical changes of aging, dietary choices, or socio-economic changes.

Svartstrom also discussed several SCES programs that can help mitigate malnutrition, such as in-home counseling, Meals on Wheels, and reduced-rate nutrition supplements.

The free in-home counseling is a big part of Svarstrom’s role at SCES, and she said most referrals are for diabetes, weight, high blood pressure, and people who want to know more about nutrition and how they’re doing.

“It’s really about helping people make small changes, most of the time with nutrition and healthy eating that best meets their individual needs,” she said.

Aging Well is a monthly production of SCES, which is produced in partnership with the Somerville Media Center (previously known as Somerville Cable Access Television or SCAT).

Aging Well airs on SCATV Channel 3 at the following times:
• Sundays at 10am
• Mondays at 7:30am
• Tuesdays at 1pm.

Episodes are also available through the SCES YouTube channel.

SCES is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.