Life expectancy in the United Stetes has increased dramatically during the past century, creating a large population of people with potentially compromised nutritionsl status. Although requirements were previously believed to decline with aging, recent date suggest that requirements for protein and energy often do not decline and may actually Increase during disease exacerbations. Optimal intake of vitamins and minerals is also under reevaluation, and significant Segments of the population may have deficiencies basad on limited intake or absorption. Social and psychological factors and difficulty chewing and swallowing may interfere with adequate intake.

At the end of a hospital stay, many patients need continued skilled transitional care before discharge home. Many patients who have existing nutritional deficits, including weight loss, decreased serum proteins and pressure ulcers are admitted to subacute nursing facilities. Careful initial and periodic reassessment of nutritional status and aggressive nutritional management must be used to prepare patients for optimal independence after discharge. Improved clinical outcome can be achieved with prevention of malnutrition and timely correction of nutrtional problems

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