70 % of family carers surveyed say diet and nutrition are a concern in dependents

In a recent survey conducted on-line by The Carers Association and Nutricia for ‘National Carers Week’, June 9th – June 14th, it was found that a large percentage of carers are concerned about the nutrition and diet of those they care for and also for their own diet.

Some 70% of the carers surveyed were worried about the nutritional intake of the person they care for and three-quarters of the respondents also admitted that they are too busy to dedicate time to prepare a nutritious diet for themselves because of their intense caring role.

Over 150 carers were surveyed for the report and the findings include:

• Almost 30% of carers reported that the person they care for is thin/underweight/has unintentional weight loss

• 70% of carers are worried about the nutritional intake of the person they care for

• 33% of carers look to the internet for information on nutrition whereas only 29% look to their GP

• Only one in 3 carers consume a good nutritious diet themselves with the main barrier being 70% of them too busy and 46% stating limited finances as another reason for same.

To celebrate National Carers Week, Nutricia is funding 2,500 information booklets for Family carers, which will be distributed during Carers Week in order to inform carers about the importance of taking care of their own diet and nutrition as well as that of the person that they are caring for.

As malnutrition remains a major cause and consequence of poor health, it is vital that both carers and their dependents eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Where malnutrition is identified and managed there are significant benefits to the carer and cared for person including:

• Cared for person is stronger and able to do more for themselves

• Cared for person is more active, more positive which in turn can lift the carers mood and spirit

• Carer is able to trust others to do more with the cared for person which in turn frees up the carer to do other things

Catherine Cox of The Carers Association says, “It is vital that the carer looks after their own physical and mental well-being along with that of their dependent. The person who is being cared for relies on the carer being healthy in both body and mind and if this is not the case, the carer will eventually not be able to continue in a caring role as they will need care themselves. Diet and nutrition are so important and we are very grateful to Nutiricia for this handy reference for carers when considering meals and snacks for themselves and their loved ones”.

Fiona Rafferty, Director of Medical Affairs, Nutricia said, “We at Nutricia are delighted to be working with the Carers Association to highlight the issue of malnutrition and its impact on carers and the people they care for. There are approximately 143,000 adults affected by malnutrition in Ireland. We need to ensure that those at high risk of malnutrition have access to the right nutritional care at the right time. Nutricia believe that advanced nutrition is an integral part of healthcare, and offer an extensive range of products and services with proven benefits and better outcomes for people from birth through to older age.”

A variety of events are taking place across the country to celebrate Carers Week. The Carers Association has launched a number of Pop-Up Care Cafes in Carlow, Dublin and Cahir, Co Tipperary, which are open for carers to pop in and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat with trained staff and volunteers. Advice on caring for dependents and for the carer, on nutrition, entitlements and on legal issues will also be available in each café as well as a range of complimentary therapies on offer. The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPI) will also be on hand to provide information and support for family carers on looking after their mental health and wellbeing.

National Carers Week is organised to highlight the excellent work of the 187, 112 family carers who save the State some €4bn every year, by caring for their loved ones at home. The Carers Association offers respite and support to carers who often experience isolation and loneliness due to the nature of their caring role. The Carers Association cares for the carer by offering an inclusive support network of experts and other carers who in turn support each other in their caring roles.

For further information or to register as a member of The Carers Association see www.carersireland.com or call 1800 24 07 24. For further information on nutrition and Nutricia see www.nutricia.ie