University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal

 

Special Nutrition Needs of Older Adults

nutrition risk checklist

Know the warning signs of poor nutritional health. Use this checklist to learn whether you, or someone you know, is at risk for poor nutrition.

Read the statements below. For each YES answer, circle the number in the “yes” column. Then total the score.

STATEMENT
YES
I have an illness or condition that has made me change the amount or kind of food that I eat.
2
I eat fewer than 2 meals each day.
3
I have 3 or more drinks of beer, liquor, or wine, almost every day.
2
I eat few fruits, vegetables, or milk products.
2
I have tooth or muscle problems that make if hard to me to eat.
2
 I don’t always have enough money to buy the food I need.
4
I eat alone most of the time.
1
I take 3 or more different prescription or over-the counter medicines each day.
1
In the last 6 months, I’ve lost or gained 10 pounds without wanting to.
2
I am not always physically able to shop, cook, or feed myself.
2
TOTAL SCORE

 

SCORE
WHAT DOES THIS SCORE MEAN?
0 to 2
GOOD! Re-check your score in 6 months.
3 to 5
You are at MODERATE nutritional risk. Try to improve your eating habits and lifestyle. Seek advice from your office on aging, senior nutrition program, senior center, or health department.
6 or more
You are at HIGH nutritional risk. Bring this checklist to your next appointment with your doctor, dietitian, or other qualified health professional. Tell them about any problems you may have. Ask for help to improve your nutritional health.
 

NOTE: These warning signs suggest risk, but they are not meant to diagnose any condition.  Read on to learn more about the warning signs of poor nutritional health.

Use the word DETERMINE to remind you of the warning signs.

DISEASE
Disease, illness, or chronic conditions affect the way that people eat. Confusion or memory loss can make it hard to remember what, or whether, they have eaten a meal. Feeling depressed can affect appetite, digestion, energy level, weight, and well-being.

EATING POORLY
Poor nutritional health can be caused by eating too little, eating too much, skipping meals, or eating the same foods day after day. It can also be caused by eating too few fruits, vegetables, or milk products

TOOTH LOSS OR MOUTH PAIN
Missing or loose teeth, or poor-fitting dentures, can make it hard to eat.

ECONOMIC HARDSHIP
People on a reduced income may find it hard to afford the foods they need.

REDUCED SOCIAL CONTACT
Having fewer contacts with other people can have a negative effect on morale, well-being, and appetite.

MULTIPLE MEDICINES
Growing old may change the way that older adults respond to these medicines. The more medicines that they take, the greater the risk for side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, drowsiness, nausea, or a change in appetite or taste.

INVOLUNTARY WEIGHT LOSS OR GAIN
This is an important warning sign that should not be ignored.

NEEDS ASSISTANCE IN SELF CARE
Some older adults have trouble walking, shopping, or buying or cooking food.

ELDER YEARS ABOVE AGE 80
Most older people lead full and productive lives. But as age increases, the risk of frailty or health problems increases.

Adapted from Determine Your Nutritional Health, developed by the Nutrition Screening Initiative. A project of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Dietetic Association, and the National Council on Aging.

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

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