Nutritional Vulnerability in Older Adults: A Continuum of Concerns
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A nutritionally vulnerable older adult has a reduced physical reserve that limits the ability to mount a vigorous recovery in the face of an acute health threat or stressor. Often, this vulnerability contributes to more medical complications, longer hospital stays, and increased likelihood of nursing home admission. We have characterized in this review the etiology of nutritional vulnerability across the continuum of the community, hospital, and long-term care settings. Frail older adults may become less vulnerable with strong, consistent, and individualized nutritional care. Interventions for the vulnerable older adult must take their nutritional needs into account to optimize resiliency in the face of the acute and/or chronic health challenges they will surely face in their life course.
KeywordsOlder adults Nutritionally vulnerable Malnutrition Community dwelling Hospital malnutrition Long-term care
The authors acknowledge the support of the National Institutes of Health via training grant support for KPS (AG0000029) and the Duke Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (1P30-AG028716). The authors also acknowledge having participated in the following studies:
•National Pork Board: A High-Protein Weight Loss Treatment for Sarcopenic Obesity, November 1, 2013 to October 30, 2015; Connie W. Bales, PhD, RD, Principal Investigator; Shelley R. McDonald DO, PhD, Coinvestigator.
•AMDA Foundation/Pfizer Quality Improvement Award: Development of an Educational Program to Improve the Skills of CNAs to Recognize, Report and Respond to BPSD; Shelley R. McDonald DO, PhD, Principal Investigator, March 1, 2013 to June 1, 2015.
•National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: Does Enhanced Protein Intake Preserve Function and Lean Muscle Mass during Weight Reduction in Frail, Obese Older Adults? (MEASUR-UP); Connie W. Bales, PhD, RD, Principal Investigator; Shelley R. McDonald, DO, PhD, Coinvestigator, February 1, 2012 to September 30, 2014.
Compliance with Ethics Guidelines
Conflict of Interest
Kathryn N. Porter Starr, Shelley R. McDonald, and Connie W. Bales declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
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