utritional Status Among the Geriatrics in Nyamira County, Kenya
Okinyi, Dorcah Kwamboka
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In Kenya, the geriatric population has greatly increased from 1 million in 1989 to 1.9 million by 2009 and is anticipated to reach about 3 million by the year 2030. This has been contributed by normal aging processes, health conditions, and the lifestyle people have adopted. Thus, it’s valuable to understand the trends in geriatric nutrition that influence their overall well-being. The main objective was to determine the nutritional status of the geriatrics in Nyamira Sub-county, Kenya. The study population comprised of persons aged sixty years and above and were residents in Nyamira Sub-county. A sample of 230 participants was determined using Fisher et al.,1998 formula. Data was collected through face to face researcher administered questionnaire, focused group discussion guide and key informant guide where deliberations were conducted in three divisions. Nutrition assessment was carried out using MNA tool, clinical assessment on age-related health problems were measured and dietary assessment using food frequency questionnaire. Anthropometric measurements included; height, weight and BMI in determining the malnutrition status of geriatrics. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics aided by SPSS. Significance testing was done by use of Chi Square and qualitative data was analysed using content analysis and relevant themes derived. Anthropometric data was analysed using BMI cut-off of 18.5kg/m2 for underweight. A total of 230 geriatrics were interviewed where 43% were males and 57% were females. Slightly more than half of the respondents were married (51.3%). Marital status was significantly related with nutritional status (χ2=27.7699, P<0.01). The study showed statistical significant relationship between the level of education and nutritional status (χ2=37.260, P<0.001). Majority (39.6%) stayed with their spouses, while (12.2 %,) stayed either with their siblings or alone. The study established low level of geriatric knowledge where Chi Square test showed a strong significant relationship between nutrition knowledge and education level at P<0.001. In determining food consumption patterns, 14.3% of the respondents ate one meal and while 32.6%of them ate twice in a day. Physiological factors such as disease conditions (13.9%), body changes as well as psychological factors such as culture (12.2%), economic status (56.1%), loneliness (13%) and bereavement (4.8%) influenced the choice of food. Anthropometric indicators showed that 31% were malnourished and 42% were at risk. MNA scores exhibited that (54%) were malnourished, 29% were at risk and 17% had normal nutritional status. Chi Square test showed that there was a high statistical significant relationship between level of stress and nutritional status at (χ2=57.712, P<0.001). The study findings indicate that the geriatrics face various challenges including lack of funds, inadequate nutrition knowledge, loneliness, inadequate resources, lack of communication and physiological factors due to aging. The findings indicate that the elderly are faced with shortage; insufficient nutrition knowledge as well as social factors is major contributors to malnutrition. However, inadequate food intake reveals the need for proper nutrition intercessions and should be aimed at modifying the normal food consumption patterns when acquiring food, improved food preparation methods, increasing fruit and vegetable intake as well as adequate physical activity in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.