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  1. Stechmiller, Joyce K. ARNP, CS, PhD


Protein-energy malnutrition and its consequences can have considerable impact on the quality of life of the elderly. Healthcare providers working with older adults are challenged to recognize individuals at risk for undernutrition and to initiate early nutritional assessment and intervention strategies to prevent malnutrition. In so doing, they can assist in improving the quality of life for the older adult and decrease healthcare costs associated with serious outcomes of malnutrition. Current knowledge about the nutritional needs of the elderly, definition of malnutrition, age-related risk factors, and causes of malnutrition in the elderly are presented in this article. A practical approach to preventing the occurrence of malnutrition is suggested through the use of a quick and easy nutritional screening assessment tool, the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA). Recommendations for specialized nutritional support, as well as its role in wound healing and immune enhancement, are discussed. Where available, scientific data supporting its use are included.