Malnutrition Essay

1439 words - 6 pages

Malnutrition is both a cause and a consequence of ill-health. The term malnutrition can apply to various states – under-nutrition, over-nutrition or deficiencies of specific nutrients (8).Malnutrition is common but under-recognised in the elderly. Clinicians are seldom taught about the subject during their undergraduate or postgraduate level.Malnutrition can lead to serious consequences in terms of morbidity and mortality (5).Undernutrition is a global problem that is usually caused by a lack of food or alimited range of foods that provide inadequate amounts of specific nutrients or other food components, e.g. protein, dietary fibre and micronutrients. Excessive intake of food or specific forms of food may also be harmful. Malnutrition among older persons can occur in economically disadvantaged groups even within privileged societies, and in pockets of poverty or social isolation. Reasons for undernutrition include decreased food availability and affordability; lack of interest or awareness affecting intake; malabsorption or increased nutrient requirements; and traditional habits or beliefs whether of the elderly or their caretakers.(2) Frail elderly people in the community, in nursing homes or in hospital are at increased risk of malnutrition. In many instances,this malnutrition, affecting health, well-being and ability to overcome disease or injury, goes unrecognised by physicians,often due to their meagre training in nutritional assessment.(4)Malnutrition is prevalent in elderly populations, even in the developed world .Among hospitalized elderly, nutritional status is even poorer. Protein-energy malnutrition has been reported in up to 15% of community-dwelling and home-bound elderly individuals, up to 62% of hospitalized elderly patients, and up to 85% of residents of nursing homes. Many studies have shown that poor nutrition leads to complications during hospitalization and increases mortality. Poor nutritional status in the elderly is associated with numerous factors, including decline in cognitive and functional status, chronic diseases, medications, poor dentition, isolation, and poverty. The nutritional status of elderly individuals is difficult to estimate. (1,3)

Nutrition-related diseases in elderly

Anemia in older persons is commonly overlooked despite mounting evidence that low hemoglobin levels are a significant marker of physiologic decline. Using the World Health Organization definition of anemia (hemoglobin level less than 13 g per dL (130 g per L) in men and less than 12 g per dL (120 g per L) in women), more than 10 percent of persons older than 65 years are anemic. The prevalence increases with age, approaching 50 percent in chronically ill patients living in nursing homes. There is increasing evidence that even mild anemia is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Anemia warrants evaluation in all older persons, except those at the end of life or who decline interventions. About one third of persons have...

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