and Older Americans
"One out of four older
Americans suffer from poor nutrition"
Studies have shown that older adults at nutritional risk tend to make more
visits to physicians, hospitals and emergency rooms. Malnourished
patients have hospital stays nearly twice as long as those of well-nourished
patients, and costs of their stays are $2,000 to $10,000 higher.
Malnourished older patients are readmitted to hospitals more frequently than
those who are well-nourished.
For older Americans, malnutrition can lead to lost weight and strength,
lessened immunity to disease, confusion and disorientation.
Malnutrition exacerbates frailty and debilitation, causing families and
loved ones greater worry and concern, as well as more time and energy spent
The reasons older people may eat too little food can be as simple as too
little money or as complex as disease, too many medications and too
dependent on others. Several important factors contributing to
inadequate nutritional intake among older people can be cited.
Poverty contributes significantly to
malnutrition among older people. As health care, medication
and utility costs increase, many older Americans cut back on their
Many older people, especially the
oldest and the poorest, have disabilities or functional
impairments and are unable to shop for groceries or cook for themselves.
Over 80 percent of those 65 and older
suffer from chronic diseases and conditions, many of which are
associated with malnutrition.
Older adults take more medications
than any other age group. Medications can cause loss of appetite,
reduced taste and smell, painful swallowing, nausea and vomiting,
and can affect the absorption and use of nutrients.
Nearly half of the nation's
low-income elders have lost all of their natural teeth. Problems
with chewing and swallowing have definitely been linked to malnutrition.
Source: The issue
paper, Food and Nutrition for Life: Malnutrition and Older Americans