Jenneke van Hemert

Malnutrition, double trouble.

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Jenneke van Hemert a registered dietitian who specializes in meal preparation for people with dementia, or swallowing or chewing difficulty, and chronic disease management. Jenneke makes house calls, can do complete nutrition assessments and screen for swallowing difficulty, and can even deliver specialized meals service.

Malnutrition in the community may not be always visible. Yet, it is a big problem: one out of two people admitted to hospital are in a malnourished state. People who have a chronic disease and are older than 65, are especially at risk for malnutrition. This is because when you suffer from a chronic disease and it is getting worse, you are not feeling well, and not feeling inspired to cook. You may have physical limitations curbing your ability to prepare a good meal.

It is troublesome when you have difficulty cooking meals. But when you have a chronic disease, it means double trouble: your body needs more nutrients than normal at a time when you are not able or willing to cook. To top it up, symptoms of the chronic condition will get worse when you are not eating enough of the right stuff. You have an increased risk for falling, for getting sick faster and longer, and accelerated worsening of your chronic condition. Medication works less efficient when you are malnourished. You can also experience mood swings, depression, and even confusion. Malnutrition can be treated. Proper treatment has great impact on well-being and quality of life for you and your family.

Whether it is you or someone you are caring for, it is important to get sufficient nutrition. However, the one you care for may not be forthcoming on how they are eating. They may feel like they are burdening you, or just don’t see the point. Advocating for someone you think is malnourished is difficult, and there are health professionals that can help you. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Loose cloths that seem to big on him or her, a sign of lost weight
  • Loose fitting dentures, another sign of lost weight, and likely to have difficulty chewing food.
  • No fresh ingredients in the fridge or freezer; instead you are seeing puddings, toast, muffins, cookies, or nutrition supplements such as Boost or Ensure. The latter are supplements to use in addition to regular nutrition, they are not meant to be meal replacements.
  • Skipping more than 2 meals per week, refusing foods, no appetite.
  • Sadness, isolation, looking frail.

What to do:

When you have noticed unintentional weight loss or any of the signs above, a referral to a Dietitian is recommended. The family physician or nurse practitioner can make the referral for you. You can also contact your local Island Health Unit and ask to see to a Community Dietitian.

It may not be as simple as ordering meals through a regular meal service; there may be other issues such as swallowing difficulty, renal dysfunction causing taste changes, a painful mouth, or a need for a prescribed diet to meet nutritional requirement. Let a health professional help you, that is what we are here for.

Seniors home care, care facilities,RV parks B &B, Churches, Brew pubs, craft breweries, vineyards, distilleries, Pets BC. Seniors 101, Island Voices promoting the products and services available for seniors on Vancouver Island. Seniors 101 lifeline. Snowbirds. Employment. Politics. Vancouver Island Now. Island woman magazine. Around the Island, Newsletters.Jenneke van Hemert a registered dietitian who specializes in meal preparation for people with dementia, or swallowing or chewing difficulty, and chronic disease management. Meal delivery service is available. If you like to find out more about this topic or her services, please visit 




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