Living Arrangements Affect Nutritional Status of the Elderly

  • Kim, Cho-Il (Nutrition Research Team, Korea Health Industry Development Institute) ;
  • Lee, Haeng-Shin (Nutrition Research Team, Korea Health Industry Development Institute)
  • Published : 2001.11.01

Abstract

With a continuous and steep increase in life expectancies, Korean society is expected to enter the aged society by year 2020. And as the number of elderly increases, the burden of medical and health care expenses for them becomes greater in every developed society. Hence, the preventive approach for chronic degenerative diseases remains to be the best solution for the above-mentioned problem and warranting optimal nutrition would be one of the most important approaches. We performed a nutrition survey on 585 older adults of 50 years of age and older, residing in 3 metropolitan areas including Daejun, Daeku and Kwangju. Anthropometry, including body composition analysis based on the bioelectrical impedance analysis using InBody 3.0 and dietary intake survey by semi-quantitative flood frequency questionnaires, were used in collecting data. As one of the most important factors affecting the health and nutritional status of the elderly, we focused on living arrangements. Analyses were performed on the data from 550 subjects only, after excluding statistical outliers. Three hundred and sixty-eight of them(66.9%) were female and the number of elderly(65 years of age and older) was 485. According to the statistical analyses, the female elderly were more vulnerable to malnutrition than the male elderly. And the older they befame, the less adequate they were in nutrient intake. In addition to this, the elderly living alone showed the poorest patterns of nutrient intake and anthropometry. Although the exact effect of living alone could differ among different sex-age groups, the fact that the elderly living alone is vulnerable to malnutrition would remain concrete. This raises the utmost necessity of nutrition intervention to be devised and directed to the targeted population, namely the living-alone elderly from the government level. The intervention may include nutrition education, nutrition counseling and support In forms of meal service by networking the efforts of central as well as local governments to ensure the good health of the Korean elderly.