Nutritional status is altered in the self-neglecting elderly

Scott M. Smith, Susan A.Mathews Oliver, Sara R. Zwart, Geeta Kala, P. Adam Kelly, James S. Goodwin, Carmel B. Dyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Elder self-neglect is the most common form of elder mistreatment. Individuals who cannot provide basic needs for themselves may develop social, functional, and physical deficits. The systematic characterization of self-neglecting individuals is the goal of the Consortium for Research in Elder Self-Neglect of Texas project. This study reports on the nutritional status of self-neglecting elderly. Self-neglectors (SN) were recruited based on referrals along with matched control (CN) subjects. Data are for 40 SN subjects (age 76 ± 7 y) and 40 CN subjects (76 ± 7 y). Blood samples were collected and analyzed for indices of nutritional status. SN subjects had a greater serum concentration of total homocysteine than CN subjects (13.6 ± 4.5 vs. 11.6 ± 5.6 μmol/L, P < 0.05) and a lower concentration of red blood cell folate (1380 ± 514 vs. 1792 ± 793 nmol/L, P < 0.05). Plasma β-carotene and α-tocopherol were lower in SN subjects (0.28 ± 0.2 vs. 0.43 ± 0.33 μmol/L; 23.2 ± 9.3 vs. 27.8 ± 9.3 μmol/L, P < 0.05). SN subjects had a lower serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D than CN subjects (33.7 ± 16.4 vs. 44.1 ± 19.6 nmol/L, P < 0.05). These differences in markers of nutritional status show that the self-neglecting elderly are at risk for altered nutritional status, particularly of folate, antioxidants, and vitamin D. Evaluation of these data in relation to other functional and cognitive assessments are critical for evaluating the relation between nutrition and self-neglect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2534-2541
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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