Malnutrition in elderly: Social and economic determinants
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Malnutrition occurs frequently in the frailest groups of the population, especially in people who are on a low income and elderly subjects, overall if they are institutionalized. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of malnutrition in a sample of elderly people living in different settings and to identify the determinants of malnutrition.
A total of 718 subjects, 472 females (F) and 246 males (M), were recruited from nursing homes or were free living in three different regions in Italy. Nutritional status, depression, social, functional and cognitive status, were evaluated.
According to the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), a high prevalence of malnutrition was found out in both genders: 26% of F and 16.3% of M were classified as being malnourished (MNA<17); 40.9% of F and 35% of M were at risk of malnutrition (MNA 17–23,5). The prevalence of malnutrition was significantly higher in NH subjects in both sexes. Moreover, a relationship was shown between malnutrition and inability to shop, prepare and cook meals because of a low income, distance from markets or supermarkets as well as impossibility to drive the car or to use public transportation. This study confirms the necessity to routinely perform nutritional status evaluation in elderly subjects, to carry out training courses for health workers (doctors, nurses, psychologists, dietitians), to implement nutritional education of the geriatric population, to develop tools and guidelines for health workers and caregivers, to identify and reduce clinical, functional, social or economic risk factors for malnutrition.
Key wordsMalnutrition elderly poverty
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