Elderly people most at risk of developing malnutrition are those who eat little because of poverty, disability resulting from chronic geriatric disease, or a combination of these factors. Malnutrition is found in elderly people living in their homes if they are indigent, isolated, or homebound because of their own disability or the serious illness of their partner. Ten main risk factors for noninstitutional-ized elderly can easily be identified and acted on by nonmedical personnel (Table 1). It must be understood that each risk in Table 1 is only a potential
Table 1 Early warning signs for malnourishment
Medical and physiological factors
Recent unintended weight change of approximately
>5% in the preceding month Disease, polypharmacy or long-term medication Immobility
High alcohol consumption Psychological factors
Bereavement and/or depression or loneliness
Poor nutrional knowledge
Lack of sunlight Low budget for food Missed meals or snacks danger sign; each has to be considered in relation to others. It should be stressed, however, that malnutrition is much more common in the elderly in long-term care, especially those who are unable to feed themselves.
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