Nigerian Journal of Nutritional Sciences

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Nutrient intake and functional ability of older persons by gender and age

O.C. Nzeagwu, A.C. Uwaegbute


Background: Adequate nutrition, healthy ageing and the ability to function independently are essential components of a good quality of life.

Objective: To assess the nutrient intake as well as functional ability of older  persons (65 years and above).

Methods: Multi-stage random sampling technique was used to select a total of 600 participants from eight communities in two local government areas of Abia state, Nigeria. Nutrient intake was estimated for 5% of the participants using 3- day weighed food intake. Functional ability of all the participants was assessed using Barthel's index of Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scale.

Results: The mean scores on ADL for females (18.18 ±1.44) was not significantly higher than that of the males (18.08 ±1.48). Both were however within the independent range of 10-20points. The mean scores on IADL for females (1.82±1.42) was significantly higher than that of males (1.29±1.12). One hundred percent of both sexes were functionally independent on ADL. However, more than half of the participants (69.6% males and 78.5% females) showed degree of dependency on IADL. Percentage dependency on IADL generally increased with age in both sexes. The calculated daily nutrient intakes were higher than the Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI) for almost all the nutrients and the mean energy intake for males (4051kcal) was significantly higher than 3300kcal for females. There was strong negative correlation between ADL and IADL  in males. However, no relationship existed between ADL and almost all the nutrients studied for both sexes.

Conclusion: Almost all the subjects were functionally independent on ADL scale while more than half were IADL dependent. Nutrient intakes of almost all the nutrients studied were higher than their RDI.

Keywords: Nutrient intakes, older persons, activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, functional ability

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