Screening for nutritional status in the elderly
Irina Popescu, Adina Ghemigian, Evghenia Petrova & Constantin Dumitrache
The population of the world is aging and is estimated that by 2030 21% of global population will be aged 65 years and older. At present, under-nutrition in older people is a serious and growing global problem affecting even developed countries. As one ages, several physiological and pathlogical changes may contribute towards the development of protein energy malnutrition. This syndrom brings with it many adverse health outcomes and a significant cost to the individual, families, communities and the healthcare system. There is strong evidence that good nutrition can decrease complications, hospitalisation and even mortality. Old people should eat nutrient-dense foods with lower amounts of fat and sugar (empty calories). Normal changes of aging require fortified foods and certain mineral and vitamin supplements.
It is important to systematically screen for under-nutrition and actively look for causes that can be reversed. There are validated screening tools such as Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) that should be used for this purpose (score >24=normal, 1723.9=risk for malnutrition, <17=malnutrition). We administered Mini Nutritional Assessment questionnaire to 50 persons aged 65 years and older hospitalised in our Institute of Endocrinology. The average MNA score was 21.49±5.3. Women ≧75 years had the worst nutritional status: average MNA score: 16.61. Men <75 years had the best mean MNA score: 24.66.