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Nutritional frailty Presented by: Professor Renuka Visvanathan PhD, FRACP, FANZSGM

Anorexia of ageing affects approximately a quarter of older people and is a major contributor to both a reduction in protein intake and weight loss. Weight loss in older people is often associated with loss of muscle mass and strength which contribute to frailty.

Professor Visvanathan described the phenotypic method of assessing frailty which involves assessing:

  • Self-reported exhaustion
  • Slow gait speed
  • Low energy expenditure (reduced physical activity)
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Weak grip strength

Frailty is associated with poor outcomes, but it is a dynamic state with the opportunity to improve or remain stable.

To prevent frailty, older people require an increased daily protein intake coupled with exercise.

As part of the healthcare team we need to be aware of other factors that affect nutritional intake such as polypharmacy, mobility or neuropsychological factors.

Professor Visvanathan has an international reputation in nutritional frailty. She has a long and distinguished career as a geriatrician working to improve the function and quality of life with some of our most frail and vulnerable old people.

Her current professional positions include:

  • Clinical Director of the Aged & Extended Care Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital & Basil Hetzel Institute in Adelaide
  • Director of the Adelaide Geriatrics Training and Research with Aged Care Centre (G-TRAC)
  • Associate Investigator Translating Nutritional Science to Good Health
  • with the University of Adelaide School of Medicine's NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence
  • A member of the Healthy Ageing subcommittee to the Economic Development Board of South Australia.
  • A member of the Expert Advisory Board to the 49 million European Sarcopenia and Physical Frailty In Older Persons: Multicomponent Treatment Strategies [SPRINTT] Project
  • A member of the Editorial Board to, an international education resource

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