Evaluation of the Benefits of Enteral Nutrition in Long-Term Care Elderly Patients

Zeev Arinzon, Alexander Peisakh, Yitshal N. Berner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Demented patients may refuse to eat as they come closer to the end of their lives. We evaluated the effectiveness of enteral nutrition in the improvement of survival and nutritional and functional status in very dependent and demented long-term care (LTC) elderly patients and its correlation with the nutritional parameters. Material and Methods: Fifty-seven elderly patients, aged 60 years and older, who received nutrition by the enteral route (enteral nutrition group, ENG), were compared with 110 age-, sex-, comorbibity-, cognitive-, and dependent-matched subjects (control group, CG). Indications for enteral nutrition, type of tube; weight status subsequent to enteral nutrition; cognitive, functional, and pressure sore status; and complete clinical, complete blood count, and biochemical profile were recorded for each subject on initiation and conclusion of the study. Results: Enteral nutrition was associated with improvement in blood count (hemoglobin and lymphocyte count), in renal function tests and electrolytes (BUN, creatinine, BUN/creatinine ratio, sodium and potassium), hydration status, serum osmolarity, and in serum proteins (total protein, albumin, and transferrin), but not in serum cholesterol and CRP levels. Decline in functional and in cognitive status was higher in CG than in ENG (Δ changes; respectively P = .24 and P < .001). ENG had a higher Norton scale than CG (Δ changes; P < .001). Mortality rate was higher in ENG (42%) than in CG (27%, P > .05). Complication rate related to nutrition was higher in ENG than in CG (61% and 34%, respectively; P < .001). Conclusion: Enteral nutrition does not have an advantage over oral nutrition in prolonging life or preventing pressure sore development in an LTC setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-662
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Elderly
  • enteral feeding
  • long-term care
  • nasogastric tube
  • percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy


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