Malnutrition in the Elderly: What it is and How to Prevent it


In this short article we will talk about malnutrition nell’elderly; more precisely what it consists of, how to classify it and above all how to prevent it.

This is a pretty big topic, a lot important both on a socio-economic and health level – given that the population of the so-called “elderly” seems to be constant increase (with the exception of the covid-19 pandemic period).

We therefore have selected the information that, in our opinion, is most important in the diet of the elderly subject.

However, it remains appropriate to keep in mind that geriatric nutritional complications are extremely “delicate” to treat, because they are sometimes potentially risky. It is therefore always good practice, when in doubt, to contact your doctor.

Malnutrition in Third Age

What is malnutrition and why does it affect the elderly more

Per malnutrition means a state of functional modification, structural e di development of the organism, resulting from thealteration of the balance between the needs they income (or use) of dietary nutrients, which promotes morbidity and increases the risk of mortality.

Malnutrition occurs more easily in the elderly than in other age groups.

This is also because, due to aging, the body reduces many of its physiological capabilities causing a change in body composition such as:

Everything is then aggravated From one reduced perception of the stimuli bodily (hunger and thirst) and predisposition to psychiatric comorbidities (depressive and/or anxiety disorders) or neuro-degenerative disorders (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc.).

How is malnutrition in the elderly classified?

Malnutrition in the elderly can be classified in primary e secondary.

  • Primary malnutrition is linked to inappropriate eating habits influenced by physiological, pathological, socio-economic and environmental factors;
  • Secondary malnutrition depends above all impaired digestive capacity, reduced intestinal absorption potential, ineffective blood transport and poor metabolisation of nutrients.

Body Weight and Nutritional Deficiencies

Can the elderly “can” or “must” lose weight?

The tendency towards malnutrition in the elderly concerns everyone nutrients, including dietary fiber and water.

They are mostly related to ainsufficient overall food intake which, if sometimes it is the result of inappropriate food choices – or forced by precarious socio-economic conditions – in other cases concerns a nutritional strategy aimed at counteract il overweight.

This is because, in old age, overall energy expenditure decreases due to the lowering of the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and the level of physical activity (LAF), favoring excess weight. Sometimes, in order to to prevent o remedy this condition is addressed by reducing calorie intake.

On the other hand, doing so risks compromising the recommended rations of essential nutrients. Furthermore, in these subjects, a modest increase in adipose mass plays a protective role against bone fractures due to contusion. Restrictive diets would therefore be from to limit more likely.

Unfortunately, sometimes – as in the presence of severe obesity or significant metabolic pathologies or cardio-respiratory complications – the application of a slimming diet is unavoidable, as it constitutes the “lesser evil”. The specialist should be responsible for preventing nutritional deficiencies balancing meticulously diet o integrating if necessary.

Diseases and Disorders

What conditions can make the situation worse?

Malnutrition in the elderly is often aggravated from significant pathological conditions that can compromise both eating habits and nutrient absorption levels. It is the case of:

It should also be underlined that other pathologies of another nature can cause an increase in certain needs; These are indicative examples:


Prevent Malnutrition

How to prevent malnutrition in the elderly?

Preventing malnutrition in the elderly is essential to guarantee it greatest quality ed life expectation.

The most important precautions are:

Use: since most elderly people tend to consume little meat, fish, eggs and low-fat cheeses, by replacing some cereal-based foods with those containing legumes it is possible to increase the protein content to the detriment of the carbohydrate content;


In order to ensure a natural aging and limiting health interventions on geriatric patients is very important reduce the incidence of malnutrition in the elderly and encourage, when possible, the maintenance of general fitness through an accurate cardiovascular training and muscle strengthening plan.


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