Assessment of nutritional status of older people in homes for the aged in the Somerset West area
Owing to the paucity of data in South Africa regarding older people (>60 years) living in homes for the aged, the aim of this study was to evaluate their nutritional status in a convenient sample of homes for the aged (N=4) in the Somerset West area. In the descriptive, cross-sectional study, nutritional status was evaluated by using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) as well as traditional anthropometric measurements independently. Nutrient intake was determined using menu, plate wastage and food acceptability data. The study population consisted of 53 male and 157 female older people with a mean age of 76.8 years (SD 10.6). The mean body mass index BMI was 25.6 (SD 5.17). According to the MNA, 6% of the older people were malnourished, and 47% were at risk for malnutrition. Had the independent anthropometric measurements been used, fewer older people would have been identified as at risk of malnutrition. After correcting for plate wastage, the average energy consumption was 6 963 kJ. Nutrient values <67% of the recommended intakes for older men and women were observed for vitamin D, folic acid and calcium; and energy, carbohydrates and vitamin C for men specifically. Food items with the most plate wastage (>50%) were the starchy menu items, cooked vegetables and lunch protein dishes. The MNA is a valuable instrument in identifying older people at risk of malnutrition, thus allowing for early intervention. There was a relationship between malnutrition and lower energy intake, emphasising the need for meticulous menu planning and monitoring of food consumption, and the need for addressing specific micronutrients.