If you are caring
for an elderly loved-one, consider keeping their
refrigerator well stocked to keep them healthy. Sounds
strange? Well a newly published research letter in the
August 12, 2000 issue of The Lancet suggests this claim
According to the
report, “Elderly people with empty refrigerators are
more likely to be readmitted to the hospital after
assessment compared with patients with adequate
refrigerator content.” Researchers from Geneva
University Hospital in Switzerland conducted the study.
A total of 132 elderly patients (aged 65 and older)
recently discharged from the hospital for various
aliments were studied. All received routine medical
visits in their homes at least once a month after their
release from the hospital. During the visits, medical
researchers did a thorough assessment of their
refrigerator content; classifying it as adequate,
inadequate or empty.
of adequate meant the seniors contained the appropriate
amounts of different food products to maintain proper
nutrition. An inadequate measure was based on
refrigerators containing rotten foods or outdated foods.
An empty classification proposed there were less than
three different food products in the fridge.
collected included variables such as body mass index,
biological markers and nutrition. In addition, social
data was collected and proved to be a valuable measure.
According to a report on Aging-Related Statistics
published in 2000 by the Federal Interagency Forum,
seniors who are socially active are more likely to have
better physical and mental health.
evaluated for at least three months, and the numbers and
exact dates of hospital admission were calculated within
the figure. The study recorded that of the 132
refrigerators assessed, 119 or 90% were classified as
having adequate or inadequate food content and 13 or 10%
were considered empty. The patients with an empty
refrigerator, compared to patients with a full
refrigerator, did not differ in age, gender, body mass
index, or socially.
According to the
findings, four or 31% of the patients with empty
refrigerators were admitted back into the hospital four
weeks following the conclusion of the assessments. Only
10 or 8% of those patients with a full fridge had to be
readmitted into the hospital.
concludes that the adjusted risk of being admitted was
increased threefold with an empty refrigerator.
suggests that future studies need to be completed in
other settings to help determine the impact on one’s
health from an empty refrigerator. However, caregivers
may want to take notice of food content in their
loved-one’s home. The report does not give direction as
to which food products should be kept stocked up, just
that the food product should not be spoiled or outdated.
The Food and Drug Administration’s food pyramid is
normally recommended for an adequate source of nutrition
for most people, except those on special diets.
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