Nutritional issues in nursing home care

Ann Intern Med. 1995 Dec 1;123(11):850-9. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-123-11-199512010-00008.


The most common nutritional problems in nursing home residents are weight loss and concomitant protein energy undernutrition. Although the causes of weight loss in these patients can usually be treated, they are rarely identified in the nursing home. Depression and adverse drug effects are the most common causes of weight loss. We discuss the appropriate use of feeding tubes in the nursing home and the early use of enteral feeding to prevent the development of severe protein energy undernutrition. Vitamin deficiencies, especially folate and pyridoxine deficiencies, frequently develop in nursing home residents. Hip fractures are often associated with vitamin D deficiency. Trace mineral deficiencies (for example, zinc deficiency) can aggravate immune deficiency and slow wound healing. Inadequate fluid intake leads to dehydration, hypotension, and, in persons with diabetes mellitus, hyperosmolarity. Finally, food intake itself can cause postprandial hypotension (which in turn may precipitate falls), produce electrolyte shifts, and result in aspiration pneumonia. Physical activity programs are an important component of nursing home care that may have an effect on nutritional status, and simple, cost-effective programs may be as beneficial as high-technology programs. Careful attention to the nutritional intake of nursing home residents is both a clinical and a quality-of-life issue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Avitaminosis / therapy
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Nutrition Disorders / etiology
  • Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Nutrition Disorders / therapy
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Weight Loss