Malnutrition amongst the elderly has emerged as a major risk factor to increased life expectancy for Australia's population.
Figures released recently forecast a huge leap in the average life expectancy for Australians by the year 2051. Australians have a current average life expectancy of 79 years for males and 83 years for females. This is forecast to rise to 84 and 87 respectively by 2051. However, a threat to the increase is the surprisingly high rate of malnutrition within Australia's rapidly ageing population. Already hundreds of thousands of Australia?s elderly are so malnourished they are falling ill and dying in what has been described as an "unspoken national scandal".
Director of the National Ageing Research Institute, Melbourne University's Professor Allan McLean called the situation at the end of 2005 a "national shame". His view has been supported by a study from Deakin University's School of Exercise and Nutritional Science. Associate Professor Caryl Anne Nowson found nursing home residents were routinely undernourished, and failed to meet required standards on most dietary measures. Eighty percent of elderly residents surveyed did not get enough calcium, 60 percent did not get enough energy and 40 percent failed to get enough protein. The problem is not restricted to Australia. In Britain it has been revealed that as many as 40 percent of patients in nursing homes suffered from poor malnutrition. Those figures jumped to 60 percent for people over 65 who were elderly hospital patients. Meanwhile, in the United States, one in three elderly adults fail to consume enough daily calories and are in the high risk category for malnutrition. However, it is cold comfort for those either in the age bracket or with elderly relatives in Australia.
Tender Loving Cuisine (TLC) chief executive officer Jack Barker is not surprised by the figures. "The most complaints received by the Department of Aging, Disability and Home Care are from nursing homes that have patients admitted malnourished from not eating properly," Mr. Barker, 65, said. The number of people in Australia 65 and over increased by almost two and a half percent in the past year. About one quarter of Australians who live beyond age 85 can expect to end up in a nursing home. "Few regard this as their preferred option. The majority of the elderly we speak with would rather remain in their own homes," Mr. Barker said.
Professor John McCallum, an expert on ageing from Victoria's University, said the median time to death in a nursing home was 10.5 months for men and just nine months in women. The Australian Government, which recently announced its Extended Aged Care at Home packages, has recognized the growing problem. Under the Government packages, aged-care providers are paid to visit people in their own homes to help with medication, offer clinical support and even put people to bed at night.
Mr. Barker said the importance of eating healthy food was critical to the elderly who wished to remain in their own homes. "Our team mission is to provide high quality home delivery meal service to the aged and disabled in the community," said Mr. Barker.
TLC, a NSW Seniors' Card partner, prides itself on delivering healthy meals and is seeing some positive results among the elderly. "I can actually see the improvement in the old people who eat our meals," TLC delivery driver Greg Simpson said this week. "Often the elderly don't have the time or the energy to go out and buy, and then prepare, fresh vegetables for their meals. With TLC home-delivered meals all the hard work is taken out of that task and they eat better. I can notice the difference."
Client Mrs. Vera Williams, of Liverpool agrees. "The doctor is very pleased with the meals that I am eating. Dietitians and doctors at the hospital feel that you can't go wrong by eating these meals," she said.
Instead of resorting to unhealthy take-away food or tinned and frozen meals that can be lacking in taste and nutrition, TLC provides delicious homemade tasty meals delivered straight to the door.
"Our recent focus has been on establishing an online ordering system which will access and utlise the rapidly expanding internet marketplace," said Mr. Barker. "This will further lift the community exposure of the organisation, while we continue with our traditional answering service, so essential for seniors". "It will also enable siblings to better and more easily care for their family using this technology to place orders on their behalf," he added.
Tender Loving Cuisine is a community organisation which was initially funded by the Royal North Shore Hospital to provide a home delivery service to their discharged patients. However, it is now a self-funded, independent organisation offering their services to anyone in these areas which require high quality, tasty meals. TLC specialises in home delivered, calorie controlled, healthy meal plans and special dietary packages are available for Diabetics, Coeliacs and people requiring low cholesterol meals.
And as TLC operates to a quality standard and not a price constraint, the highest quality ingredients are used to prepare all the meals. Most meals are Heart Foundation Tick Approved so you can be sure that they not only taste great, but they are also healthy and nutritionally balanced.
There are no contracts so clients can use the service for just a week or longer. And if you are not happy with the service, there is a money back guarantee on the first orders up to fourteen dinners. Clients can choose from small (340g) or large (400g) dinners and the minimum order is seven dinners; the more you buy, the cheaper it gets. For small servings, the regular price is $69.95 for seven dinners, $90.90 for ten dinners and $116 for fourteen dinners. Specialty meals are $1 each extra and soups ($4 each) and desserts ($2.50 each) are also available. Prices include delivery and GST, so for less than $70 per week, you can enjoy individually prepared meals that are delivered right to your door.
All you need to do is heat and eat. And as there are no contracts, you can use the service for just a week or as long as you wish. All meals have been snap frozen for transport and storage and will keep in a freezer for up to six months. TLC couriers will even place your order in your freezer for you. The meals all include heating instructions and serving suggestions and have been prepared so you can heat and serve in around six minutes using a microwave or 30 minutes with a conventional oven.
TLC's gourmet menu includes meat, poultry and seafood meals plus home style soups and desserts. Examples include Corned Silverside with White Sauce, Beef Lasagne with Shredded Cheese, Steak and Kidney Pie. Roast Pork and Apple Sauce, Indian Style Lamb Curry, Apricot Chicken, Roast Turkey with Cranberry Sauce and Baked Ocean Fish Fillet.
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