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The Institute of Geriatrics at Uniklinik Köln has conducted a survey among 1,252 patients receiving treatment for nutritional therapy. Results showed that 17.7% of 80 year old (average age) patients are well nourished. It was also found that 58.7% were at a clear risk of malnutrition, whilst 23.6% of patients were acutely malnourished.

The study also shows that regularly measuring weight and monitoring BMI are not sufficient checks for malnutrition, as most elderly people had insufficient Vitamin D levels, as well as the nutrients Cobalamin and Folic Acid.

Thus, the study suggests that the department considers a series of regular issues. These include:

  • any weight loss over recent months
  • the mobility of the patient
  • patient independence for food intake
  • the number of meals
  • the supply of liquids
  • and the subjective overall assessment of health for the patient

Although the benefits of early screenings for malnutrition is known to be effective, the working group of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geriatrie (DGG) found that only 40% of geriatric clinics in Germany have an appropriate screening programme in place.

Commentary:  Still, many nursing homes pay little attention to the nutritional status of its residents, and outpatients receive insufficient attention too. The underlying causes can vary: loneliness, dementia, acute and chronic illnesses, or smell and taste disorders, as older people increasingly forego meals.

Nearly a quarter of those in the study were malnourished despite receiving nutritional therapy. One approach to get the problem under control could be the use of liquid food. The open question is whether nursing homes, doctors and care services have liquid food as a viable option? Can health care services develop a distribution channel for liquid nutrition?

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