Telemonitoring for the prevention of undernutrition in community-dwelling elderly

PhysioDom HDIM is a European project aiming to improve nutritional status of community-dwelling elderly through telemonitoring of nutritional outcomes such as dietary quality, weight and nutritional status. The instrument aims to support health care professionals to detect and address nutritional problems at an early stage, thereby optimizing health and quality of life of elderly people.

In the Netherlands, it is estimated that 11 to 35% of the community dwelling elderly are undernourished, which negatively impacts health and quality of life. Ideally, health care professionals pay sufficient attention to early detection and treatment of nutritional problems. However, in the context of an ageing population health care resources are sparse. E-health -defined as the use of ICT for health- may assist health care professionals in detecting poor nutritional status by means of telemonitoring. Policy makers regard E-health as a promising aid to improve health care quality while keeping health care affordable.

PhysioDom Home Dietary Intake Monitoring (HDIM) aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a telemonitoring system –which focusses on regular measurements of dietary intake, nutritional status and physical activity, accomplished by the elderly themselves– in stabilizing or improving nutritional status and quality of life in elderly home care clients.

The telemonitoring system enables seniors to measure dietary intake, nutritional status, weight and physical activity themselves. Results will be displayed on the elderly’s TV, where he or she also receives advice on how to improve diet and physical activity. Telemonitoring results will be sent to the nurse as well, who is automatically alerted in case of unfavourable results such as weight loss. As such, the nurse is able to provide proper and timely follow-up, which could include dietary advice or referral to a dietician.

In the first phase of the project, this telemonitoring system will be pilot-tested in a small group of elderly home care clients. Secondly, a large scale effectiveness study of nine months will be carried out, evaluating effects on nutritional status and quality of life and including a cost-effectiveness analysis.

We aim to bring insight into the feasibility and effectiveness of telemonitoring of nutritional outcomes in the elderly. Our ambition is to contribute to knowledge of useful E-health applications for the elderly and in this way contribute to the quality of elderly home care.

More research: Nutrition and ageing

More research: Prevention of diet-related non-communicable diseases