Nutritional status of community-dwelling elderly with newly diagnosed Alzheimer's disease: prevalence of malnutrition and the relation of various factors to nutritional status

E Droogsma, D Z B van Asselt, C J M Schölzel-Dorenbos, J H M van Steijn, P E van Walderveen, C S van der Hooft
Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 2013, 17 (7): 606-10

OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of malnutrition and its relation to various factors in community-dwelling elderly with newly diagnosed Alzheimer's disease (AD).

DESIGN: Retrospective cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Memory clinic in a rural part of the Netherlands.

PARTICIPANTS: 312 Community-dwelling AD patients, aged 65 years or older, were included.

MEASUREMENTS: At the time the diagnosis AD was made, socio-demographic characteristics and data on nutritional status (Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA)), cognitive function (Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), Cambridge Cognitive Examination (Camcog)), functional status (Interview for Deterioration in Daily Living Activities in Dementia (IDDD), Barthel Index (BI)) and behaviour (Revised Memory and Behaviour Problems Checklist (RMBPC)) were assessed. Characteristics of well-nourished patients (MNA score >23.5) were compared to characteristics of patients at risk of malnutrition (MNA score 17-23.5). Linear regression analysis was performed to assess the effect of various factors on nutritional status.

RESULTS: The prevalence of malnutrition was 0% and 14.1% was at risk of malnutrition. AD patients at risk of malnutrition were more impaired in basic and complex daily functioning than well-nourished AD patients (median IDDD score 41.5 [25th -75th percentile 38.8-48.0] versus median IDDD score 40.0 [25th -75th percentile 37.0-43.0], p = 0.028). The degree of impairment in basic and complex daily functioning (IDDD) was independently related to nutritional status (MNA) (p = 0.001, B = -0.062).

CONCLUSION: One in seven community-dwelling elderly with newly diagnosed AD is at risk of malnutrition. The degree of impairment in daily functioning is independently related to nutritional status. Therefore, assessment of the nutritional status should be included in the comprehensive assessment of AD patients. The relation between daily functioning, nutritional status and AD warrants further investigation.

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