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Malnutrition in older people can be hard to detect - in the concluding part of our review we help identify the signs to look for

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Malnutrition in older people (Part 2)


Detection of Malnutrition

Although biochemical measurements can contribute to nutritional assessment, none can reliably measure nutritional risk e.g., a low serum albumin is almost always a marker of a fluid overload rather than a marker of malnutrition.


The best indicators of poor nutrition are measurements of weight and height. Other measures in specialist circumstances include skin-fold thickness, arm circumference and grip strength measurements. These generally need an experienced assessor. 


These measurements can then be used with the following questions:

  • Has the patient been eating a normal and varied diet in the last few weeks?
  • Has the patient experienced intentional or unintentional weight loss recently? Obesity or fluid balance changes and oedema may mask loss of lean tissue. Rapid weight loss is a concern in all patients whether obese or not
  • Can the patient eat, swallow, digest and absorb enough food safely to meet their needs?
  • Does the patient have an unusually high need for all or some nutrients? Surgical stress, trauma, infection, metabolic disease, wounds, bedsores, or history of poor intake may all contribute to such a need
  • Does any treatment, disease, physical limitation, or organ dysfunction limit the patient’s ability to fulfil nutrient needs?
  • Does the patient have excessive nutrient losses through vomiting, diarrhoea, surgical drains etc?
  • Does a global assessment of the patient suggest under nourishment? Low body weight, loose fitting clothes, fragile skin, poor wound healing, apathy, wasted muscles, poor appetite, altered taste sensation, altered bowel habit.
  • Can the patient meet all their requirements by voluntary choice from the food available?

Covid Booster Vaccine

If you are suffering from malnutrition, you may be at more risk from COVID-19. Ask your doctor if you are eligible for the next Covid 19 booster. Whelehans Pharmacy Pearse St have a weekly walk-in clinic for Covid-19 boosters. Call 0449334591 for more.


Convenient Flu Vaccination Service at Whelehans

Whelehans offer flu vaccine at our Pearse St and Clonmore store most days for adults and children. You can book online on the Whelehans Pharmacy website or ring either pharmacy. Flu vaccine is €25 (€20 if you book online) or free with medical or doctor visit card. It is free for older people and those with long term conditions and healthcare workers.


What is BPro Cardio Screen Service?

BPro Cardio Screen measures artery stiffness to identify risk of blockages and cardiovascular and circulatory disease. BPRo is placed like a watch on your wrist and is pain free. A pulse wave reads and calculates a wave signal that indicates the elasticity of large, small, and peripheral artery walls as well as tests for stress, central blood pressure, heart rate, and more. It is now €35 (was €50).  The next clinic is Saturday September 24th (from 9am to 5pm) at Whelehans Pearse St. If you missed this Bpro Cardio Clinic, the next one is Saturday October 29th. Book online on the Whelehans Website or by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591.


Disclaimer: BPro Cardio is not an alternative to medical assessment; it can indicate risk of cardiovascular events but is not a diagnosis.


For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Email queries to Find us on Facebook.


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