Fast Five Quiz: Presentation and Diagnosis of Nutrition and Malnutrition in Older Adults

Nadia Ali, MD, MPH


July 13, 2021

In adults, the normal prealbumin range is 15-36 mg/dL or 150-360 mg/L. The normal albumin range is 3.4-5.4 g/dL (34-54 g/L). Indicators of malnutrition are albumin levels (half-life, 18-20 d) and prealbumin levels (half-life of 48 h), and these measures are used to monitor nutritional status. Of note, serum protein levels may also be lower than normal after trauma or with infection.

Hemoglobin concentration should be determined to rule out anemia from pathologic processes such as iron deficiency anemia or anemia of chronic disease. If the hemoglobin level is less than 13 g/dL in men and 11 g/dL in women, clinicians should look for an underlying cause, although a level of 11 g/dL is adequate in patients older than 90 years.

Failure to thrive in older adults is defined by the Institute of Medicine as weight loss of more than 5%, decreased appetite, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity, often associated with dehydration, depression, immune dysfunction, and a low cholesterol level.

Learn more about the assessment of malnutrition in older adults.


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