Locher et al identified a number of social reasons why an older adult with cancer may undereat. Interventions directed at these factors may improve nutrition for these patients. The authors are from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Birmingham-Atlandat VA Gerontology Research, Education, and Clinical Center, and Yale University.


Patient selection: older adult with cancer


Social reasons why the patient may undereat:

(1) The patient wants to lose weight or views weight loss as a positive change.

(2) The patient selects a special diet which the patient hopes will improve health but which do not provide adequate nutrition.

(3) Embarrassment or frustration when eating with others.


These may complicate factors related to the tumor or its treatment such as:

(1) anorexia

(2) change in taste

(3) gastrointestinal problems

(4) early satiety

(5) depression


One factor not mentioned is economics, which can be a problem for an elderly adult.


The patient may fail to discuss changes in diet or problems eating with the physician and the physician may not ask.


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