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Weight Loss Management in Elderly
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Management of Weight Loss in the Elderly

Weight loss occurs commonly in elderly individuals, and is associated with functional decline and mortality. A 10 percent loss of body weight over 10 years is consistently associated with increased mortality and functional decline. A 4 percent body weight loss over 1 year should trigger a search for causes, which commonly include depression, cancers, benign gastrointestinal conditions, and medication toxicity. To evaluate weight loss, physicians should distinguish between four problems: anorexia, dysphagia, weight loss despite normal intake, or socio-economic problems. In most cases, the cause of weight loss is identified by a thorough history, a targeted physical examination, and a simple laboratory evaluation. Assessment should include evaluation of functional and nutritional status. Management should include correction of potential causes and nutritional supplementation.

Source: Gazewood JD, Mehr DR. Department of Family Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, USA.

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