Nutritional status in cognitively intact older people receiving home care services—a pilot study

H Soini, P Routasalo, H Lagstrom
Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 2005, 9 (4): 249-53
Older adults are a potentially vulnerable group for malnutrition. This cross-sectional pilot study aims to assess the nutritional status of elderly patients living at home and receiving home health care services. The data were collected from patient care plans, the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), and a questionnaire on eating problems. In addition, serum nutritional status indicators were measured, and an oral examination including quantitative saliva measurement was carried out. Out of 71 eligible patients 51 (72%) patients aged 76-93 years participated. MNA results showed that 47% were at risk of malnutrition. Care plans for 26 patients made reference to questions of nutrition but provided no detailed forward planning. The mean serum albumin value was 39.1 +/- 3.8 g/l, seven patients had a value lower than 35 g/l. MNA scores were significantly lower for female patients with haemoglobin values lower than 120 g/l (p = 0.027). The dentist's estimation of dry mouth and subjective problems in energy intake were significantly associated with lower MNA scores (p = 0.049 and p = 0.015). Subjects with functioning natural dentition had higher body mass index (BMI) scores than others (p = 0.0485). The results point at the importance of using screening tools such as the MNA for purposes of nutritional assessment, the estimation of oral problems such as dry mouth, chewing and swallowing problems, and advance planning in nutritional issues within the field of home care.

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