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Do Not Overlook Malnutrition in Older Adults



Good nutrition is critical to overall health and well-being. Malnutrition is common among the elderly. In developed countries, around 15% of the elderly are malnourished. Malnutrition contributes to progressive decline in health, reduced physical and cognitive functional status, increased utilization of health care services, and increased mortality.


How to spot malnutrition

To detect malnutrition:

  • Unintentional weight loss more than 5% in the past 6 months
  • Albumin less than 3.5 g/dL
  • Body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5 kg/m2


Risk factors

  1. Eat inappropriate food – always eat the same kind of food, poor oral health, eat alone, cannot cook
  2. Not getting enough nutrients – chronic illness (depression, dementia), use of certain medications, difficulty swallowing or absorbing nutrients, a diminished sense of taste or smel



  1. History taking, physical examination, laboratory investigation – to find causes of malnutrition and correct them: medications for depression, stop certain medications that reduce appetite, lifestyle changes
  2. Nutrition supplement - Liquid nutrition supplements provide calories, protein, vitamins and minerals in a drink. Their purpose is to supplement the usual diet. Liquid nutrition supplements come in different types, including ones designed specifically for people with diabetes or kidney disease. Your doctor or dietitian can help you determine which supplement fits you best. Research shows that nutrition supplement can help increase hand-grip strength and increase appetite. Moreover, it can reduces complications and mortality rate in hospitalized patients with hip fracture.

Undernutrition in the elderly is common and can be associated with adverse medical consequences, contributing to frailty, morbidity, hospitalization and mortality. Early identification and management of people at risk of undernutrition is important.

For more information:

Bangkok Longevity Center, Bangkok Hospital

2nd floor, Wattanosoth Hospital Buidling

Call 0 2310 3755 or 1719

Fax 0 2310 3335