Canberra Times reported on a study by researcher Jane Kellet of the University of Canberra which found that 22% of nursing home residents in the Australian state were moderately to severely malnourished. Another report that covered all of Australia stated that 50% of residents in nursing homes across the country were malnourished.
Ms. Kellet’s study included 101 residents who volunteered from five different nursing homes. The study assessed weight change, dietary intake, fat and muscle stores, and frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms in each participant. It found that 20% of the participants were moderately malnourished, while 2% were found to be severely malnourished. Patients requiring high levels of medical care and those suffering from dementia were not included in the study.
According to Kellet, natural signs of ageing like reduction in skeletal muscle mass, difficulty swallowing, and decreased appetite closely resemble those of malnourishment. She notes that the similarity of symptoms often allows malnourishment of patients to go unnoticed or ignored, and states that “We need to recognise that malnutrition isn’t part of ageing.”She suggests that these similarities make it extremely important to monitor nursing home patients’ nutrition so that those who are malnourished can be properly treated.