Malnutrition Among the Elderly Essay

Malnutrition Among the Elderly Essay

Malnutrition Among the Elderly Essay

Malnutrition and poor nutritional status among the aged are a matter of concern in many countries. Malnutrition and unexpected weight loss among the aged contribute to progressive decline in health, reduced functionality, and increased readmission to healthcare. Despite many healthcare institutions addressing multifactorial issues contributing to the risk of nutrition and malnutrition, the issue still remains a menace in the healthcare system (Dent et al., 2019). The purpose of this assignment is to discuss the risk of malnutrition among the elderly above 80 years old. Again. The study will conduct a nutritional assessment on an elderly person and recommend the case presented.

Signs of Malnutrition in a Person aged 80 or Older

Malnutrition is harmful at any age, but it impacts older adults harder than other populations. A malnourished adult would be vulnerable to increased risk of infection, falling, readmissions in the hospital, slow recovery time, and death (Dent et al., 2019). Various signs show that an adult is malnourished, and actions need to be taken to save such people.

Unexpected weight loss is the first evident sign that would show that an older adult is malnourished. The body weight in adults is significant in assessing the initial issues that such patients might be facing (Dent et al., 2019). For instance, a sharp decline in weight signifies that the patient is not eating or has a changing eating habit. These signs would prompt health caregivers to run different tests to support the increased weight loss in adults.

General body weakness shows that adults lack enough body energy that can support normal body functions. This state would lead to slow operations like walking and talking. Besides, the patient would be breathing heavily and lack the energy to function as a normal adult (Dent et al., 2019). The tiredness might signify various issues in the patient, and malnutrition would be one of the possible complications that the patient might face. Other signs like loss of appetite, eating small amounts of food, and fluid accumulation are other important signs that would show that an older adult is suffering from malnutrition.

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Effects of Aging on Nutrition

People tend to reduce the amount of food they eat and have different food choices as they grow old. These dietary changes are unclear, but it is believed that the low food intake among the aged is connected to the reduced intake of calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin E, and B (Norman et al., 2021). The increased nutrient deficiency among the aged causes increased risks of health complications, resulting in increased loss of appetite.

As people grow old, they tend to have low musculoskeletal functions implying that the body would not require more energy for the functioning of the muscles. The bones, ligaments, and soft tissues tend to have reduced activity because of the reduced functionality among the aged (Norman et al., 2021). These factors tend to reduce their choice of food, and in the process, they fail to take important nutrients that would lead to malnutrition.

The behavioral change caused by the loss of loved ones, trauma, and anxiety among the aged affects their diet. Increased anxiety levels among the aged would result in loss of appetite that further leads to malnutrition (Norman et al., 2021). For example, in the case provided by the older patient, life changes caused by the loss of her husband affect her diet to the extent that she cannot take some of the meals she used to take when her husband was alive.

Nutritional Needs of the Elderly

Nutrition among the elderly is about eating a healthy balanced diet with the necessary nutrients that the body needs. However, good nutrition is good irrespective of age. The changes among older adults always affect their healthy eating habits resulting in a special diet. This population needs lots of nutrients with minimum calories (Norman et al., 2021). These foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lactose-free milk. Older adults require foods that are absorbed in the body faster and can supply the required energy for their normal body functioning. Besides, the presence of the family during mealtime also encourages older people to eat and meet their nutritional needs.


Evidence-based Resources in Describing Health Problems that Occur as the Result of Malnutrition

According to the study done by Norman et al. (2021), malnutrition among older adults is becoming a recent health issue in the recent past as compared to other years. The reduced quality of life and increased risk of infection are major factors worsening the case of malnutrition among older adults. This study examines malnutrition as the major cause of old age diseases such as depression, anxiety, and chronic disorders.

Another study done by Zhang et al. (2019) found that 60% of the patients diagnosed with cancer are 65 years and above, and malnutrition is a common sign among these patients. Malnutrition remains a significant problem among the aged because it leads to various health complications such as cancer and other chronic infections. These infections are the major cause of death among the aged in the current society.

Determinants of health Contributing to Malnutrition among the Elderly

The oral problems common among older adults are a risk factor for malnutrition. This population always presents problems related to dental status, difficulty in swallowing or chewing, gum-related issues, and oral pain (Zhang et al., 2019). These oral issues reduce the ability of the aged to consume a wide range of food leading to malnutrition.

Psychosocial problems such as poor cognitive function, psychological distress, depression, ineffective social support, and anxiety are also leading causes of malnutrition among adults. These issues are common among older adults, and if measures are not taken to solve these psychosocial problems, then the older adults will not thrive for long (Zhang et al., 2019). A stressed older adult would not eat healthily, leading to malnutrition.

Ways of Controlling Further Spread of the Global Health Issue

Malnutrition among old adults is an issue that can be addressed with proper training of the nurses on diet and care for these people. The nurses need to have various ways of examining the change in the behavior of the older patients and providing that would result in improved health conditions (Zhang et al., 2019). Besides, the power of the family is important in improving the eating habits of the aged.


Malnutrition problems have been increasing in the recent past because of the improper interventions taken toward improving care among older adults. Irma needs a sense of belonging to eat and enjoy her meals in this case. Measures to reduce depression and anxiety are positive treatments for malnutrition among geriatric patients.


Dent, E., Hoogendijk, E. O., Visvanathan, R., & Wright, O. R. L. (2019). Malnutrition screening and assessment in hospitalised older people: a review. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging23(5), 431-441. c

Norman, K., Haß, U., & Pirlich, M. (2021). Malnutrition in Older Adults—Recent Advances and Remaining Challenges. Nutrients13(8), 2764.

Zhang, X., Pang, L., Sharma, S. V., Li, R., Nyitray, A. G., & Edwards, B. J. (2019). Prevalence and factors associated with malnutrition in older patients with cancer. Journal of Geriatric Oncology10(5), 763-769.



The older elderly (age 80+) may be at a higher risk for malnutrition due to physiologic changes including but not limited to poor oral health, dementia, and/or a repetitive or limited dietary intake due to lack of interest or inability to prepare variety in their meals. This is particularly a concern for elderly persons who live alone without a nearby support system. Persons at risk for malnutrition require a detailed assessment to identify the extent of their risk for problems associated with malnutrition. Learners will conduct a nutritional assessment on an elderly person and make recommendations as well as identify appropriate resources.

Case Study


Irma is an 82-year-old widow who lives alone with a history of hypertension. At the age of 67 she had a mild stroke but recovered with no physical impairments. Lately she has been complaining of dizziness and fatigue. Irma used to be an avid fan of all the cooking shows and took pride in fixing gourmet meals for friends and her husband. Her husband died 6 years ago and since his death she lost all interest in cooking. A year ago, her smoke alarm went off when she fell asleep and left the stove on. Now Irma is afraid of using the stove for fear of starting a fire. Her meals consist of a boiled egg and toast with orange juice for breakfast and a cup of canned soup in the evening. She has no variety in her meals and eats little protein or vegetables. Irma has no children and her younger siblings live in another state. She occasionally walks to the community center and participates in some of the activities for seniors. Her physician reported that she is exhibiting signs of early dementia and may not be able to live alone much longer.

Describes the signs of malnutrition in a person age 80 or older

Discusses the effects of aging on nutrition

Discusses the nutritional needs of the elder

Uses evidence-based resources to describe health problems that occur as the result of malnutrition

Identifies the determinants of health that can contribute to malnutrition among the elderly

Discusses ways to control the further spread of the identified global health issue

Identify appropriate referral resources

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