Many nursing home residents are malnourished and dehydrated, according to UCSF researcher Kayser-Jones

December 10, 2000

Jeanie Kayser-Jones, UCSF professor of physiological nursing and medical anthropology and director of the newly established UCSF Center for Gerontological Nursing Excellence is internationally known for her research in the care of older Americans in nursing homes.

Her recent research indicates that at least a third of the 1.6 million nursing home residents in the United States may suffer from malnutrition or dehydration. Inadequate staffing, a lack of individualized care and high nurse turnover are contributing factors. Chronic conditions such as depression and cognitive impairment, and the side effects for these conditions, also contribute, she said.

"Residents suffering from depression are more likely to experience weight loss. Another obstacle to good nutrition is that nursing home residents commonly have limited choice of what they eat, and their cultural and ethnic food preferences are frequently ignored. Poor dental health also contributes to inadequate nutritional intake," she said.

In a 1999 study of 40 nursing home residents, Kayser-Jones and her co-investigators found that only one nursing home resident consumed an adequate amount of liquids. "Older Americans who do not receive adequate fluids are more susceptible to urinary tract infections, pneumonia, pressure ulcers, confusion and disorientation. They are also susceptible to life-threatening electrolyte imbalances," she explained.

"We need to use an interdisciplinary approach to educate nursing professionals about nutrition, hydration and other health issues that become more complex as we grow old. The UCSF Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence is going to help us develop better educated nurses and ultimately improve the quality of life for older Americans," she said.
Kayser-Jones is the author of numerous papers and a book titled Old, Alone and Neglected: Care of the Aged in Scotland and the United States (UC Press, 1981, 1990). A native of Columbus, Nebraska, Kayser-Jones is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the Gerontological Society of America, and the American Anthropological Society. She holds a doctorate in medical anthropology from UC Berkeley, a master of science degree from UCSF, a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado, and a diploma of nursing from St. Elizabeth's School of Nursing, Lincoln, Nebraska. She joined the UCSF faculty in 1978.

NOTE TO THE MEDIA: Jeanie Kayser-Jones, RN, PhD, is available for interviews. Contact Maureen McInaney at 415-476-2557 to arrange an interview.

University of California - San Francisco

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