Montreal researchers say that older people are more likely to eat well if they're talking and interacting with others if they are receiving nursing care following a hospitalization.
Researchers working from the concern that hospitalizations decrease nutrition in seniors followed 30 patients at the geriatric unit of the University of Montreal's re-adaptation center and noted how they interacted during mealtime conversations using verbal and non-verbal measures.
They found that patients who ate meals during periods of more conversation ate more, while nutritional deficiencies were found among patients who ate alone in a hospital room.
"Approximately 35 percent of elderly people suffer from malnutrition," said co-author Marie-Jeanne Kergoat.
"That's a scary estimate when we consider that nutrition tends to deteriorate during hospitalization."
The increased social interactions may help promote more food intake, and prevent poor eating habits that could lead to further health problems, noted lead author Danielle St-Arnaud McKenzie.
Promoting healthy eating habits, including the addition of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish or nuts may also help reduce the likelihood of seniors developing age-related macular degeneration, according to researchers from Westmead Hospital.