Nutrition Checks Should Be Part Of Elderly Health Assessments

Malnutrition has been recognised as a severe issue in older individuals. This is because they frequently have one or more chronic health issues that can influence dietary intake. This has led to the recommendation that nutrition screenings should be a mandatory part of comprehensive geriatric analyses.

What is comprehensive geriatric analysis (CGA)?

A multifaceted diagnostic method called the comprehensive geriatric analysis (CGA), which was first created in the 1930s, examines a frail aged person’s functional, psychosocial, and medical capacities to create a comprehensive treatment and follow-up plan. Although it has been utilised in a variety of healthcare settings, a team of doctors, nurses, dietitians, chemists, therapists, and social workers usually uses the CGA in a geriatric specialist unit. There is no specific age for geriatric age, but according to WHO older adults over the age of 65 or above fall in this category.

Changes in cognition and dementia can affect nutrition

Dr. Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, an associate professor of nursing at Drexel University, examines each element of the CGA and outlines how nutrition screenings would fit into each individual domain: physical/medical, mental, functional, and social, in a special review article for the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition’s (A.S.P.E.N.) Nutrition in Clinical Practice journal.

According to Dr. DiMaria-Ghalili, during the physical examination phase of the CGA, medical professionals should check for indications of malnutrition, such as loss of subcutaneous fat, loss of muscle, and fluid accumulation.

She identifies how diet can be impacted by changes in cognition and dementia in relation to mental health conditions.

Malnutrition causes a loss of muscle mass and strength

Dr. DiMaria-Ghalili emphasises that malnutrition causes a loss of muscle mass and strength, which will have an impact on a patient’s functional status, in her analysis of how older persons operate.

Regarding the social domains (social networks and economic status) of older adults, she makes the point that those with fixed and limited incomes frequently must make decisions about how to pay for housing, food, and medication costs, which causes them to buy food that is less expensive, less wholesome, and less healthy, or skip meals entirely.

Delivery and management of nutrition interventions

Dr. DiMaria-Ghalili emphasises that any nutrition-related issues should be addressed, and interventions should be put into place as soon as possible in addition to identifying any prospective issues.

She advises employing a team approach for the delivery and management of dietary therapies, incorporating all the patient’s healthcare professionals, such as physicians, nurses, dietitians, chemists, and social workers.

Story Source:

Materials provided by the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

R. A. DiMaria-Ghalili. Integrating Nutrition in the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0884533614537076

Page citation:

American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.). “Nutrition screenings should be a regular part of geriatric health assessment, researchers say.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2014. <>.

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