Malnutrition is a common problem among older people and associated with reduced functional and cognitive ability. Furthermore, malnutrition among people living in special housing, i.e. in nursing homes or sheltered accommodation, appears to be more common than among those living in regular housing, i.e. in their own homes. However, it is still unclear if the relationship between malnutrition and impaired cognitive ability is connected to living arrangement, i.e. if the relationship is stronger among those who live alone compared to those who cohabit in regular housing.
The purpose with the present study was to describe the relationship between nutritional status and cognitive ability among people 60 years of age and above in Sweden, with a focus on housing and living arrangement.
Population-based cohort study.
The study focused on people living in regular or in special housing and comprised 1,402 randomly selected individuals (60-96 years of age) who lived in one municipality in south-eastern Sweden and participated in SNAC-B (the Swedish study on Aging and Care - Blekinge), 2001-2003.
Data regarding demography, nutrition and functional and cognitive ability were collected through questionnaires, medical examinations and structured interviews.
The relationship was the strongest between cognitive ability and nutritional status among those living in special housing. Regardless of housing and living arrangement, older people with a moderate or severe cognitive impairment risked (OR 2.59-16.00) being malnourished, irrespective of functional ability.
This study highlights that those with a moderate and severe cognitive impairment suffer a risk of developing malnutrition, irrespective of living and housing arrangement. The findings suggest that nurses in the social service and health care system need to consider changes in weight and nutritional intake as well as the individual needs of older people with cognitive impairment to avoid malnutrition.
Comment In: Evid Based Nurs. 2012 Apr;15(2):62-322217807