Objective: To assess the nutritional status, functional ability and food intake of older Guyanese in residential care.
Methods: Eighty-four residents of one public and two private homes underwent an anthropometric and functional ability assessment including height, weight, armspan, arm and calf circumferences and handgrip strength. Food intake in two private homes was measured over seven days by direct weighing and the use of consumption units.
Results: The overall prevalence of underweight was 26.2% and of overweight was 17.8% but the prevalence of underweight was higher in the public home (29.3% underweight and 17.2% overweight in the public home, and 19.2% underweight and 19.2% overweight in the private home). Mean handgrip strength was 26 kg in males and 17.7 kg in females. The nutritional adequacy of the diet provided by one of the homes was poor with the food providing less than 50% of the required amount of zinc and vitamins A, D and C. Neither home met the requirement for energy.
Conclusion: A high prevalence of malnutrition exists in a public home for the elderly and, to a lesser degree, in two private homes. In the context of a rapidly ageing population and tight financial constraints, the challenge of providing an adequate diet must be given priority.