Geriatric Failure to Thrive: A Multidimensional Problem

Course #69202 -


As the number of elderly patients increases, nurses and other healthcare providers must become knowledgeable about the special healthcare needs of the geriatric population. Undesired weight loss and malnutrition in the elderly are significant problems, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. Residents of skilled nursing facilities are at special risk. Geriatric failure to thrive is a diagnosis commonly used in geriatrics, and the four chief characteristics are impaired physical function, malnutrition, depression, and cognitive impairment. Participants who complete this course will learn about the identification, evaluation, and assessment of geriatric failure to thrive, including use of the Mini Nutritional Assessment, the Mini Mental Status Evaluation, and the Geriatric Depression Scale. Diagnostic/laboratory and physical assessment skills will be reviewed with a focus on weight-loss assessment. Creation of a multidisciplinary treatment plan with review of pharmaceutical options will be explored. This will give the healthcare professional the knowledge and tools necessary to identify this syndrome early. This activity will help promote better health outcomes for the geriatric population by education of the care providers and with the promotion of evidence-based practice.

Education Category: Geriatrics
Release Date: 04/01/2017
Review Date: 01/15/2020
Expiration Date: 03/31/2021

Table of Contents


This introductory course is designed for psychologists who work in or are interested in learning more about geriatrics.

Accreditations & Approvals

Continuing Education (CE) credits for psychologists are provided through the co-sponsorship of the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP). The APA CEP Office maintains responsibility for the content of the programs.

Designations of Credit

NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 5 credit(s).

Course Objective

The purpose of this course is to educate psychologists regarding geriatric failure to thrive and to promote evidence-based clinical practice when caring for patients with this condition.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Define the various conditions responsible for unintended weight loss in geriatric patients, including geriatric failure to thrive.
  2. Analyze various ethical and legal issues that can arise when treating geriatric failure to thrive patients and the role of advance directives in ameliorating some of these issues.
  3. Outline necessary components of the physical assessment and differential diagnosis of geriatric failure to thrive.
  4. Evaluate the role of polypharmacy in unintended weight loss in elderly patients.
  5. Describe the role of mental health screening in geriatric failure to thrive patients.
  6. Create a treatment plan for a geriatric failure to thrive patients, including possible pharmacotherapy approaches and areas for monitoring and follow-up.
  7. Identify geriatric failure to thrive patients for whom hospice referral should be considered.


Susan Waterbury, MSN, FNP-BC, ACHPN, entered the medical field as an RN in 1990. She continued her education, achieving a Master’s Degree from the University of Central Florida in 1999. She has worked as a Family and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner since 2000, in family practice, geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care. She achieved board certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner in 2000 and as an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse in 2006. She holds nurse practitioner licenses in Florida, Virginia, and Maryland.

In addition to her clinical positions, Ms. Waterbury continues to play an active role in educating and mentoring nurses and other healthcare professionals. She is a faculty member of University of Phoenix, focusing on nursing leadership. She has developed and presented many educational programs for a variety of healthcare organizations and community groups.

Faculty Disclosure

Contributing faculty, Susan Waterbury, MSN, FNP-BC, ACHPN, has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

Division Planner

James Trent, PhD

Division Planner Disclosure

The division planner has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

About the Sponsor

The purpose of NetCE is to provide challenging curricula to assist healthcare professionals to raise their levels of expertise while fulfilling their continuing education requirements, thereby improving the quality of healthcare.

Our contributing faculty members have taken care to ensure that the information and recommendations are accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The publisher disclaims any liability, loss or damage incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents. Participants are cautioned about the potential risk of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into practice.

Disclosure Statement

It is the policy of NetCE not to accept commercial support. Furthermore, commercial interests are prohibited from distributing or providing access to this activity to learners.

Technical Requirements

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