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Feature Article

Healthy eating and diabetes for the older generation

Pat Phillips, Melissa Carapetis, Calli Strongylos

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Abstract

Recommendations for older people with diabetes are similar to those for younger people with diabetes, but more focus is placed on adequate intake of total energy and food groups that can supply all the nutritional requirements. Special issues for older people with diabetes include dehydration, constipation and the need for nutritional supplements.

Key Points

  • For most of the healthy ‘younger’ elderly, standard nutritional recommendations are suitable; however, the ‘older’ elderly often have additional nutritional issues and special requirements.
  • For elderly people, the focus for healthy eating is on adequate intake of total energy and food groups that supply all the nutritional requirements.
  • Special issues for older persons with diabetes include dehydration, constipation and the need for nutritional supplements.
  • It is important to monitor weight in all older persons and to respond promptly to weight loss.
  • The risk of hypoglycaemia and frequency of sick days are higher in older persons with diabetes than in those without the condition. Older persons with diabetes and their carers should know how to respond to problems of glycaemia and have ready access to professional advice if needed.

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