Eating difficulties among elderly persons predict support and outcome

Albert Westergren, Christina Lindholm, Kerstin Ulander

    Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragArbetsdokument (paper)


    Rationale: Difficulties regarding ingestion, deglutition and/or energy predicts malnutrition, assistance when eating, length of hospital stay and level of care after in-hospital rehabilitation. In this study, previously found associations between eating difficulties and outcome as well as actions taken to improve oral intake were investigated.Methods: All special accommodations (SAs) within six municipalities and six hospitals were involved. Out of 2945 persons 2600 (88%) agreed to participate. Students, clinical tutors and staff collected the data. Logistic regression analyses explored associations between eating difficulties (independent variables), support and outcome (dependent variables).Results: Mean age of persons (n=2600) was 79.7 years (SD 14.4) and 63% were women. Low BMI (<20 if /=70 yrs) was found in 27%, unintentional weight loss 23%, eating assistance 38%, protein- and energy (PE-) enriched food 4%, adapted consistency of food 23% and food supplements 16%. Ingestion difficulties was the strongest predictor of eating assistance (OR 14.6). Deglutition difficulties predicted adapted consistency of food (OR 7.4). Energy and appetite predicted BMI below limits (OR 2.5), weight loss (OR 6.0), PE-enriched food (OR 3.4) and supplements (OR 5.3).Conclusions: Eating assistance to elderly persons seems effective in preventing malnutrition (weight loss and low BMI) and is mainly provided to those with ingestion difficulties. Difficulties with energy and appetite are not associated with eating assistance indicating that support of some other kind is needed such as providing PE-enriched food and supplements. This support seems however insufficiently or inadequately delivered as energy and appetite problems are associated with weight loss and low BMI. Findings from other studies are confirmed. Studies comparing “optimised nutritional support” to persons with energy and appetite problems versus “regular support” are needed.

    StatusPublicerad - 2007

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