Clinical Manifestations

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There are several major risk factors for malnutrition in the elderly that may serve as clinical clues to the diagnosis. Poverty, social isolation, dependence or disability, chronic/ multiple medications, and dental disorders all increase the risk of malnutrition in elderly adults. Obviously, many comorbidities are also risk factors (e.g., depression, stroke, congestive heart failure) and have specific symptoms and signs associated with the underlying disorder. Clinical clues of global undernutrition in elderly patients include: low body weight, muscle wasting, sparse/thinning hair, flaking dermatitis, cheilosis/angular stomatitis, poor wound healing, and peripheral edema. Specific symptoms, signs, and laboratory abnormalities associated with micronutrient deficiency are shown in Table 1.

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