Deficiency Disease in Elderly People
Various nutritional disturbances occur quite commonly during all periods of life. However, they are more likely to produce distressing symptoms in infancy and in old age. In infancy and childhood, the anabolic processes impose great demands for the growth of tissue, and the well-balanced diet must include adequate quantities of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. When a proper quantity of these substances is lacking, we are confronted, sooner or later, with various disturbances in growth and nutrition which are classified as deficiency disease. However, the modern training of pediatricians, the activities of various health agencies and of the Press have served to sensitize and educate mothers concerning proper foods for their children. These efforts have lowered infant mortality and resulted in a greater proportion of more sturdy youngsters. The addition of proper vitamins has served also to compensate to a great degree for the ultra refinement or concentration of certain foods and to assure healthy growth during the dark winter months.
Among the elderly members of the household, however, the situation may be quite different. There is no organized effort on the part of the family or society to supervise their dietary habits. Very commonly, old people eat excessive quantities of carbohydrates which supply more calories than are warranted by their physical activities. Then, too, the foods selected very often are deficient in iron and in vitamin B, and they may lack many important and indispensable amino acids. As the result of such deficiencies in iron, protein and essential. . .