Food and Behaviour Research

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13 August 2014 - MedicalXpress - Why seniors don't eat: It's complicated

More than half of older adults who visit emergency departments are either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition, but not because of lack of access to health care, critical illness or dementia

Despite clear signs of malnutrition or risk of malnutrition, more than three-quarters had never previously been diagnosed with malnutrition, according to the results of a study to be published online tomorrow in Annals of Emergency Medicine ("Malnutrition Among Cognitively Intact, Non-Critically Ill Older Adults in the Emergency Department").

Of patients age 65 and older, 16 percent were malnourished and 60 percent were either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. Of the malnourished patients, 77 percent denied have been previously diagnosed with malnutrition. Malnutrition was highest among patients with symptoms of depression (52 percent), those residing in assisted living (50 percent), those with difficulty eating (38 percent) and those reporting difficulty buying groceries (33 percent). Difficulty eating was mostly attributed to denture problems, dental pain or difficulty swallowing.