Nutrition Status as a Risk Factor for Falls among Older Adults

By Marilyn Baker-Venturini, Kathryn Sucher and Caroline Fee.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In older adults, fall-related injury is a serious public health problem. Nutrition inadequacy and falls are both frequently identified in the elderly; however, nutrition status of older adult fallers is not routinely assessed. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between nutrition status and falls among older adults. A retrospective convenience sample of 28 community-living older adults, age 65 or more was recruited from seven senior centers. Participants were men and women aged 80 ± 6.6 years. All subjects were interviewed regarding the occurrence of falls in the last year, and nutritional status was measured using the Mini Nutritional Assessment Short Form (MNA-SF). As classified by the MNA-SF, 50% of participants (n= 14) were “at risk” of malnutrition, and 3.6% (n=1) were identified as malnourished. Correlation analyses indicated a significant association between the number of falls sustained by subjects and their nutrition assessment score (r² = 0.33, p < 0.001). An increase in number of falls correlated with a decrease in the MNA-SF score. The majority of older adult fallers in this pilot study were either malnourished or “at risk” of being malnourished. These findings suggest routine nutrition screening of older adults may be a fall prevention strategy. Further investigation is indicated to assess the benefits of nutritional intervention among older adult fallers.

Keywords: Nutrition Status, Older Adults, Elderly, Fallers

Aging and Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.49-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.141MB).

Marilyn Baker-Venturini

Graduate Student, Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA

Marilyn Baker-Venturini is currently a graduate student in the department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging at San Jose State University. Her study emphasis is in Geriatric Nutrition. In addition, Ms. Baker-Venturini has over 20 years of experience working in geriatrics and coordintated the San Mateo County Fall Prevention Task Force for two years. Along with completing work on her Masters of Science in Nutrition, she is the Director of the Meals on Wheels with Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. providing meals to older adult residents of south San Mateo County.

Dr. Kathryn Sucher

Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA

Kathryn Sucher, Sc.D., R.D. received her Sc.D. from Boston University Medical Center in Nutritional Science. She has held several positions in industry before coming to San José State University. She is a recognized authority on how diet, health, and disease are affected by culture/ethnicity and religion. Dr. Sucher has published newsletters, numerous articles, and textbooks on this subject. Her latest textbook is Food and Culture, 4th edition (2004), published by Wadsworth.

Caroline Fee

Lecturer and Associate Director, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging and Division of Heal Professionals College of Applied Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA

Ms. Fee received her M.A. degree in Foods and Nutrition at San José State University and her B.A. in Education from San Francisco State University and holds 2 Teaching Credentials from the State of California. She served as Director of Nutrition Education Consultants for 7 years and has 24 years of teaching experience. She has 5 publications related to nutrition education and the older adult. Her current interests include aging and nutrition, complementary and alternative health practices, and multicultural health issues. She serves as Associate Director for Health Professions, and as a core faculty member of the Stanford Geriatric Education Center.