Tony Charlesworth (left), with Meals on Wheels volunteers Rod and Win Perry.
Tony Charlesworth (left), with Meals on Wheels volunteers Rod and Win Perry. Tara Cassidy

The 'silent health epidemic' impacting seniors

MALNUTRITION among older Australians is an issue that has inspired Meals on Wheels to launch a new eBook.

The organisation described it as a "silent health epidemic" with 40 per cent of seniors either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

"It is a crisis that is very much under the bar," Mackay Meals on Wheels management committee president Tony Charlesworth said.

"Most people don't understand it, they seem to think because they eat a meal or they eat what they like ... it may be satisfying as far as taste goes but it may not be doing their health any good.

"The significant factor is eating irregularly and also not being able to shop because of various restrictions - whether it be they don't have transport or can't drive."

The overarching objective of Meals on Wheels is to enable older Australian's to remain independent and remain in the comfort of their homes for longer.

The eBook, Recipe Resource, will launch on National Meals on Wheels Day on August 28. It will include 50 recipes will provide set meals that meet nutritional National Meal Guidelines identified by the organisation in conjunction with Wollongong University.

Mr Charlesworth said there were numerous roles beyond meal distribution that volunteers must adapt to. He said there had been times where some of the 200 volunteers in Mackay had to act as a first responder to a client injured or who had even passed away.

But he said given the average age of volunteers was in the seniors demographic, the impact they were able to make was a therapeutic experience for both parties.

"It has been proven over many years that if people are provided sustenance they are able to enjoy their familiar surroundings for longer periods ... before they become either more sick or disabled and less able to maintain their own independent living," Mr Charlesworth said.

"It's a dual purpose of Meals on Wheels in that it keeps people in their own homes but also helps these volunteers to be alert, be aware and allow them to make a meaningful contribution to society."

Meals on Wheels will be at today's Seniors Expo at the Mackay Showgrounds.

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