Clinical indicators associated with unintentional weight loss and pressure ulcers in elderly residents of nursing facilities

J Am Diet Assoc. 1995 Sep;95(9):984-92. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(95)00271-5.


Objective: To monitor adults older than 65 years living in nursing facilities and who experience unintentional weight loss of more than 10% of actual body weight in 6 months or more than 5% in 1 month or who have stage II, III, or IV pressure ulcers.

Subjects: We reviewed 290 medical records for unintentional weight loss and 265 for pressure ulcers.

Design: Two data-collecting instruments were used: one for pressure ulcers and one for unintentional weight loss. Indicators for each instrument were selected to monitor clinical conditions that tend to be problem-prone areas for these two populations.

Statistical analysis: Descriptive statistics were used to calculate the frequency of each indicator for each population.

Results: Of the 24 indicators for unintentional weight loss, the 6 indicators present most often, in descending order, were reduced functional ability, intake of 50% or less of food served for the past 3 consecutive days, chewing problems, serum albumin level less than 35 g/l with normal hydration status, cholesterol level less than 4.1 mmol/L, and refusal of 50% or more of food replacement for the past 7 days. For the residents with pressure ulcers, the indicator present most often was serum albumin level less than 35 g/L with normal hydration status. The three highest intervention indicators were receives 1.2 g protein per kilogram of actual body weight, receives 120 mg or more of vitamin C daily, and receives 1 1/2 times the energy required based on goal body weight. When serum albumin level was documented in the medical record, it was a valid indicator for both diagnoses.

Conclusions: Inappropriate dietary intake, disease, and disability place residents in nursing facilities at risk for malnutrition. Thus, it is important to obtain laboratory values when assessing elderly residents and determining their nutritional status.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mastication
  • Medical Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Pressure Ulcer / epidemiology*
  • Pressure Ulcer / etiology
  • Pressure Ulcer / physiopathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serum Albumin / analysis*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Serum Albumin
  • Cholesterol
  • Ascorbic Acid