Malnutrition is often due to one or more of the following factors: inadequate food intake; food choices that lead to dietary deficiencies; and illness that causes increased nutrient requirements, increased nutrient loss, poor nutrient absorption, or a combination of these factors.
Seniors are particularly susceptible to malnutrition, because not only do they have different nutritional needs than younger adults, they also take more medications, and have higher rates of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Older adults are predisposed to nutrient deficiency due to a decline in total and resting energy requirements (physical inactivity, loss of lean muscle mass and increased adiposity) that gradually reduces food intake while vitamin and mineral needs remain unchanged or increased .
Malnutrition can become a major concern. The incidence of malnutrition ranges from 12% to 50% among the hospitalized elderly population and from 23% to 60% among institutionalized older adults.
Factors contributing to malnutrition
Listed below are some of the essential minerals needed to maintain a healthy body. Iron – helps carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron also helps the immune system ward off foreign entities. Calcium – Most women as they get older need calcium supplements to prevent bone loss that causes osteoporosis.
Older adults (aged ≥65 y) tend to be more prone to nutritional deficiencies (1), because aging may come with an accumulation of diseases and impairments. These include cognitive and physical decline, depressive symptoms, emotional variations (2), and poor oral health (3), along with socioeconomic changes (1).
Good nutrition is important, no matter what your age. It gives you energy and can help you control your weight. It may also help prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Regarding direct nutritional measures, oral strategies are always the first choice. These include various modifications of usual foods as well as offering oral nutritional supplements. Moreover, enteral and parenteral nutrition are important options also for older patients, although less often indicated.
Lack of food is the most cause of malnutrition in the poorer and developing countries. However, in developed countries like UK or USA the cause may be more varied. For example, those with a high calorie diet deficient in vital vitamins and minerals are also considered malnourished.
Your body naturally loses muscle and bone as you age; however, malnutrition can accelerate these losses and impact your independence and ability to be active. 1. MOBILITY: Weak muscles and bones can make it harder to do everyday tasks like walking, dressing, and bathing.