Nutrition screenings should be regular part of geriatric health assessment

July 3, 2014

As older adults typically have one or more chronic health conditions that can affect dietary intake, malnutrition has been identified as a serious problem in older adults. This has given rise to the recommendation that nutrition screenings be a mandatory part of the comprehensive geriatric analysis (CGA).

The CGA, first developed in the 1930s, is a multidimensional diagnostic process that looks at a frail elderly person's medical, psychosocial, and functional capabilities in order to develop an overall plan for treatment and follow-up. While it has been used across health settings, the CGA is typically used in a geriatric specialty unit by a team that includes physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, therapists, and social workers.

In a special review article published today in the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition's (A.S.P.E.N.) Nutrition in Clinical Practice journal, Dr. Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, an Associate Professor of Nursing at Drexel University, examines each component of the CGA and outlines how nutrition screenings would fit into each individual domain: physical/medical, mental, functional, and social.

Dr. DiMaria-Ghalili notes that healthcare providers should look for signs of malnutrition, such as including loss of subcutaneous fat, muscle loss, and fluid accumulation, as part of the physical examination portion of the CGA. In regards to mental health status, she identifies how changes in cognition and dementia can affect nutrition.

In the examination of the functioning of older adults, Dr. DiMaria-Ghalili highlights that malnutrition leads to a loss of muscle strength and mass, which will affect a patient's functional status. As for older adults' social domains (social networks and economic status), she points out that on fixed and limited incomes often need to make decisions regarding paying for medications, housing costs, and food purchases, leading them to purchase food that is cheaper, less nutritious, and less healthy or skip meals altogether.

Beyond identifying potential nutrition problems, Dr. DiMaria-Ghalili stresses that any problems identified should be addressed and interventions implemented in a timely fashion. For this to be successful, she encourages the delivery and management of nutrition interventions be undertaken using a team approach, involving all of the patient's healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and social workers.

Explore further: Multidimensional frailty score helps predict postoperative outcomes in older adults

Related Stories

Multidimensional frailty score helps predict postoperative outcomes in older adults

May 7, 2014
A multidimensional frailty score may help predict postoperative outcomes in older adults.

Survey finds 'significant gap' in detection of malnutrition in Canadian hospital patients

June 3, 2014
A new survey of Canadian physicians shows a "significant gap" between optimal practices to detect nutrition problems in hospitalized patients and what action is actually taking place.

Modern medicine and patients' well being

July 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study has found that although there has been an explosion in the scientific underpinning of modern medicine, gaps still remain in our knowledge when it comes to clinicians looking after patients' ...

Older adults who are frail much more likely to be food insufficient, according to national study

November 5, 2012
A national study of older Americans shows those who have limited mobility and low physical activity – scientifically categorized as "frail" – are five times more likely to report that they often don't have enough to eat, ...

Comprehensive geriatric test predicts long-term mortality

March 10, 2014
(HealthDay)—For older patients hospitalized with heart failure, a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) score is associated with mortality over two years, according to a study published online March 4 in Circulation: ...

Researchers unveil new assessment for diagnosing malnutrition

May 3, 2012
A new systematic assessment of malnutrition, created by researchers at Penn State, will aid dietitians and other health care providers in diagnosis and treatment.

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.