Malnutrition in older adults: consequences and effects on organ systems
While we all know that malnutrition can cause a wide array of health problems in children, many people don’t know that the elderly are also susceptible to malnutrition. People usually think that because elderly adults aren’t growing anymore, they don’t need as much food, but this isn’t true. As they age, their bodies need more vitamins and minerals to fight off diseases and illnesses.
In fact, malnutrition can lead to extreme consequences in older adults: weakness, decreased mobility and activity levels (falling), increased hospitalization rates (and length of stay), lower survival rates for surgery patients, slower recovery from illness, more infections and disease outbreaks, higher mortality rate, and even death.
Malnutrition in older adults can affect every organ system in the body—the skeletal system (decreased bone mineral density), nervous system (cognitive impairment or dementia), cardiovascular system (increased risk of heart attack or stroke), respiratory system (increased risk of pneumonia), gastrointestinal system (decreased appetite), reproductive system (decreased libido or potency), urinary system (urinary tract infection), musculoskeletal system (muscle wasting or weakness), endocrine system (diabetes)