The role of nutrition in the care of the elderly patient1
Nutrition has a direct bearing on the health of the geriatric patient. For the rapidly growing elderly population, nutrient deficiencies are a reality, especially deficiencies in calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, and the water-soluble B vitamins. The risk of malnutrition increases with the progressive physiological and socioeconomic changes of aging. The quality of the diet can be further compromised by physical and mental disabilities, chronic alcoholism, overmedication, and diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, reduced immunity, and osteoporosis. Geriatric patients may be undernourished on entering the hospital. Many questions remain concerning the nutritional status, nutritional requirements, cause of deficiencies, nutrient supplementation, drug treatment, and the role of nutrition in the overall care of the elderly patient.