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Nutrition screenings vital to senior health: review

July 7, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Nutrition screenings should be a mandatory part of the comprehensive geriatric analysis (CGA), according to a special review article published online by the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition's Nutrition in Clinical Practice journal.

Malnutrition is a serious problem in older adults, notes author Rose Ann DiMaria–Ghalili, PhD, RN, CNSC, FASPEN, and it can lead to or result from physical, mental, functional and social issues. Therefore, she adds, healthcare professionals should look for signs of malnutrition—such as loss of subcutaneous fat or muscle as well as fluid accumulation—as part of the physical examination portion of the CGA.

DiMaria–Ghalili, an associate professor of nursing at Drexel University, notes that changes in cognition and dementia can affect nutrition, that malnutrition can affect a person's functional status, and that older adults on fixed or limited incomes often will purchase food that is cheaper, less nutritious and less healthy or skip meals altogether in an effort to pay other bills.

Any problems identified through a CGA should be addressed and interventions implemented in a timely fashion, DiMaria–Ghalili says. Delivery and management of nutrition interventions should be undertaken using a team approach, involving all of the resident's healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers, she recommends.

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