Decent Essays
Geriatric Assessment: Malnutrition
In a continuously growing geriatric population, malnutrition is one of the most common and most undiagnosed problems. Malnutrition is not only the indicator of existing medical and socio-economic problems, but can also be a cause of physiological and psychological dysfunctions. Proper nursing assessment in the elderly should be applied in order to identify and address this problem. In this paper I would like to focus on two main points of geriatric assessment – physiologic and psychosocial. There are two categories of factors that can contribute to malnutrition in the elderly population.
Physiological factors include chewing or swallowing disorders, cardiac
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Polypharmacy is another factor, which can contribute to malnutrition, and should be carefully assessed therefore.
Nurses should assess psycho-social factors, which could lead to nutritional alterations. Factors such as loss of caregiver support, social isolation, limited access to food, an inability to cook and prepare food because of cognitive problems, or inability to recognize hunger may contribute to patient’s malnutrition. Collateral history from a caregiver and a home visit can provide invaluable insight into these issues (Wells & Dumbrell, 2006). Knowledge of the normal and pathological changes in cognition that occur in aging is an essential background to understanding interventions to optimize cognition in older adults. (Williams & Kemper, 2010). Nutrition has been identified as a critical factor in successful cognitive aging as well as in abnormal cognitive decline, including dementia. Thus, nurses need to assess cognitive aging as a basis for educating clients about their nutritional needs and for developing interventions to promote cognitive and physiological wellbeing. There is strong evidence that a balanced nutrition can improve cognitive performance in older adults (Scott at al., 2006).
An evidence based nutrition assessment provides valuable information about the current nutritional status of a geriatric patient as well as serves as a prognostic tool for potential
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