New Nutrition Guide Provides Tips for Doctors, Seniors
To help physicians more effectively treat chronic diseases that afflict their older patients, dietitians are releasing the "first at-a-glance doctors' nutrition guide" for seniors, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The new Nutrition Screening Initiative, sponsored by the American Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, offers physicians a guide to nutrition interventions for eight chronic diseases affecting seniors: cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. The AP/Inquirer reports that 85% of seniors have at least one chronic disease that can "benefit from nutritional interventions." With most physicians lacking the "time or training to deal with nutrition choices that are making their elderly patients sicker," officials hope that the new guide, coupled with more comprehensive nutrition information online, will help doctors to "ease seniors' suffering," maybe enough that some can cut back on prescription drugs." The guide contains some "less well-known" nutrition advice, including:
- Low weight and weight loss is a potential "danger signal" and could be an early sign of dementia.
- Some common medications, including digoxin for heart failure, can curb seniors' appetites.
- Protein is important to build muscle and help "recover from illness," but some seniors "lose their taste" for meat.
- "Bite-sized" finger foods can help seniors, including Alzheimer's patients, who may have forgotten how to use a fork.
- Seniors with hypertension need to get enough calcium, a "natural way to lower blood pressure" (Neergaard, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/22).
The guide is available at http://www.aafp.org/nsi/manual/index.html.
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