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The Importance of Good Nutrition in Elderly Patients With Chronic Diseases

Learn the importance of good nutrition in the elderly and for some specific medical conditions.
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 Cancer and Nutrition

Good nutrition is important for those who’ve been diagnosed with cancer because it can:

  • Help patients cope better with treatment side effects and to recover sooner
  • Help wounds and damaged tissues heal better. This is important before and after surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other medical treatment
  • Improve the body’s immune system – its natural defence – so you’re better able to fight infection
  • Help you maintain muscle strength, stay a healthy weight, have enough energy for everyday tasks and to feel better.

 Frail Elderly Clients

As the human body grows older there is a decline in physiological function which can lead to:

Blood Pressure Changes Leading To Increased Risk Of:

  • Hypertension
  • Angina, heart attack
  • Arrhythmias
  • Stroke / Transient Ischaemic Attacks.

Diminished Breathing Capacity Leading To:

  • Decreased oxygen reserve
  • Increased infection risk.
  • Central nervous system decline leading to:
  • Memory impairment
  • Slower responses and reflexes
  • Decreased learning skills.

Susceptibility to Dehydration Leading To:

  • Kidneys become less effective filters
  • Incontinence
  • Urinary tract infections: Excessive urination Painful urination (dysuria)
  • Life-threatening sepsis.

Skeletal System Changes Leading To:

  • Decreased calcium
  • Increased incidence of fractures.

 Good Nutrition for Mental Illness

  • Variety can increase interest in food if appetite is poor
  • Folate has been shown to improve the effect of anti-depressive medication
  • Limit saturated fats to assist with weight control
  • Limit alcohol it can make depression worse
  • Fibre intake can assist with constipation, a possible side effect of anti-depressive medications
  • Dairy provides calcium and can assist with sleep
  • Water assists with dry mouth and constipation.

High Intensity / High Volume Sport

  • The balance between amount, type, and the intensity of activity with rest and appropriate nutrition
  • Specific amounts need to be calculated using body mass and exercise load
  • Sports supplementation is sometimes required but every effort needs to be made to achieve appropriate nutritional benefits from real foods first before supplementation is considered.
© CQUniversity 2021
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