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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 11

of 'Approach to the patient with unintentional weight loss'

Causes of weight loss in a community nursing home.
Morley JE, Kraenzle D
J Am Geriatr Soc. 1994;42(6):583.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the causes of weight loss in nursing home residents.
DESIGN: Retrospective chart review of all weights over the previous 6 months and an in-depth examination of all residents who lost 5 or more pounds over that period.
SETTING: A for-profit community nursing home in an urban area.
SUBJECTS: All residents who had been in the nursing home for 3 or more months. Their mean age was 80.1 years, and 89% were female.
RESULTS: Weight loss of 5 pounds or more occurred in 19% of subjects. Only 15% of subjects had lost 5% of body weight, and 4% had lost more than 10% of their body weight. Depression accounted for 36% of the weight loss. Other causes of anorexia included medications, psychotropic drug reduction, swallowing disorders, paranoia, dementia with apraxia, gallstones, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Increased energy utilization as a cause of weight loss was seen in two residents who wandered incessantly, one withtardive dyskinesia and one with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Dehydration was the cause of weight loss in two residents, and one resident had international weight loss for obesity. Cancer was the cause of weight loss in two residents. Four of 30 residents had more than one cause of weight loss. One of 25 tube-fed residents displayed weight loss.
CONCLUSIONS: A single cause of weight loss can be identified in most nursing home residents. Depression is the most common cause of weight loss. Psychotropic drug reduction may cause weight loss. The majority of causes of weight loss in a community nursing home are potentially treatable.
Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, St. Louis VA Medical Center, MO.