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Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:105-10. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S54611. Epub 2014 Jan 9.

Relationship between cognitive impairment and nutritional assessment on functional status in Calabrian long-term-care.

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Scientific Committee of the National Association of Third Age Structures (ANASTE) Calabria, Italy.



The interaction between dementia and nutritional state is very complex and not yet fully understood. The aim of the present study was to assess the interaction between cognitive impairment and nutritional state in a cohort of residential elderly in relationship with functional condition of patients and their load of assistance in long-term-care facilities of the National Association of Third Age Structures (ANASTE) Calabria.


One hundred seventy-four subjects (122 female and 52 male) were admitted to the long-term-care ANASTE Calabria study. All patients underwent multidimensional geriatric assessment. Nutritional state was assessed with the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), whereas cognitive performance was evaluated by the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). The functional state was assessed by Barthel Index (BI) and Activity Daily Living (ADL). The following nutritional biochemical parameters were also evaluated: albumin, cholesterol, iron, and hemoglobin. All patients were reassessed 180 days later.


A severe cognitive impairment in MMSE performance was displayed in 49.7% patients, while 39.8% showed a moderate deficit; 6.9% had a slight deficit; and 3.4% evidenced no cognitive impairment. In MNA, 30% of patients exhibited an impairment of nutritional state; 56% were at risk of malnutrition; and 14% showed no nutritional problems. Malnutrition was present in 42% of patients with severe cognitive impairment, but only 4% of malnourished patients showed moderate cognitive deficit. The statistical analysis displayed a significant correlation between MNA and MMSE (P<0.001), as did MMSE correlated with Activity Daily Living (P<0.001) and BI (P<0.05). MNA correlated with BI (P<0.001) and albumin (P<0.001). The follow-up showed a strong correlation between cognitive deterioration and worsening of nutritional state (P<0.005) as well as with the functional state (P<0.05) and mortality (P<0.01).


The present study clearly shows that malnutrition may play an important role in the progression of cognitive loss.


dementia; disability; elderly; nursing home; nutritional state

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