Factors Contributing to Low Weight in Community-Living Older Adults

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PurposeTo investigate the factors that influence the dietary practices and eating patterns of low-weight, community-living older adults (aged 65 and older) and to examine the nutritional advice given to them by healthcare providers (HCPs) (e.g., nurse practitioner, medical doctor).Data sourcesA qualitative approach was used to study a convenience sample of older women. Semistructured interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis and open coding were used to analyze data.ConclusionsEating alone, social isolation, and stressors are the main reasons reported by participants for low weight. Data gathered in this study provide important insights into possible reasons for low weight in community-living older adults.Implication for practiceAs HCPs, it is important to bring low weight to the attention of older adults and educate them regarding appropriate weight for their age (body mass index [BMI] range >21 to <27 kg/m2 for age 65 and older), to understand that older adults with a BMI of <24 may be at increased risk for poor nutritional status, and to weigh older adults at each office visit to assess change in BMI. Small changes in eating patterns and food intake can potentially play an important role in stabilizing weight. Strategies that address eating alone, social isolation, and stressors need to be pursued.

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