, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 609-614
Date: 15 Aug 2009

Caregiver’s education level, not income, as determining factor of dietary intake and nutritional status of individuals cared for at home

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Abstract

Introduction

Home care should intervene in the nutritional status of the elderly.

Objective

To analyze the nutritional status of the elderly assisted by a Home Care Program (PAD) and associate it with income and education level of the caregiver.

Casuistic and Method

Thirty-four individuals of both genders who received home care from PAD. The MNA (Mini Nutritional Assessment) was used along with arm circumference. Dietary intake assessment was done with three 24-hour recalls in non-consecutive days. We collected data on income, education level of the caregiver and user in years of formal education and autonomy of user. The differences between the proportions of the nominal variables were tested by the chi-square test. The continuous variables were tested for normality and if normal, the Student’s t-test or ANOVA was applied. The adopted significance level was P < 0.05.

Results

The studied sample represented individuals older than 65 years, assisted by PAD and 100% dependent on the caregiver. MNA revealed that 38.2% of the users were malnourished and 61.8% were at risk for malnourishment. Energy, fiber, vitamin E, calcium and zinc intakes were inadequate. Education level of the caregivers was a determining factor (P=0.01) for the nutritional status of the elderly while no association was found with respect to income.

Conclusion

These findings allows us to conclude that the nutritional status of this population is worrisome and that it may be associated with low quality of life influenced by the education level of the caregiver, but also by age, economic conditions and limited autonomy of this population.