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Health News Round-Up: Building a Better Place Setting for Dementia

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Sep 15, 2015 3:03:45 PM

Engineering Easier Eating and Drinking for Cognitive Decline

Both the visual recognition of food and the motor skills needed to consume it can become barriers to proper nourishment.Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect more than thinking and memory; as cognitive decline progresses, patients may struggle to eat and drink. Both the visual recognition of food and the motor skills needed to consume it can become barriers to proper nourishment. One designer, after seeing her own grandmother struggle with her food, set out to assist. Sha Yao scoured available research and field-tested a line of bowls, spoons, and cups, which feature bright, contrasting colors and precisely engineered shapes.

The resulting tableware prototypes, dubbed ‘Eatwell,’ placed first in the 2013-2014 Stanford Design Challenge. Since that time, Yao has been pursuing resources to make Eatwell a reality for patients worldwide, and press has been growing as that goal reaches completion. The project was funded by more than 1,000 contributors via an Indiegogo campaign, and an update on the fundraising site reports that Eatwell is on track to begin shipping pre-orders by late September.

(Tableware designed for Alzheimer’s patients; CNN)

A Different Approach to Nourishment at the End of Life

Throughout every stage of life, nutrition is an important consideration. Some individuals need to adhere to special diets, whether because of a food allergy or a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease. The logic is simple: better diet should translate to better health, and thus prolong life.

However, there comes a point near the end of life when prolonging it may no longer be attainable. (This prior entry in our Recommended Reading series touches eloquently on the subject.) If the long-term benefits of nourishment are no longer a factor, author Susan R. Dolan argues, then we might instead follow our loved one’s lead regarding food at the end of life — whether that means choosing not to eat, or indulging in a formerly forbidden delicacy. The article includes some important considerations about safe feeding methods for loved ones who may experience difficulty chewing and swallowing.

(This Is How You Feed A Dying Person; Huffington Post)

New Findings Shake Up Established Blood Pressure Targets

Here’s landmark news for those who always go for extra credit. Researchers wanted to study current target guidelines for blood pressure (a systolic value — or ‘top number’ — no higher than 140, or 150 for seniors), in order to see whether aiming for an even lower number could improve outcomes. Compared with the patient group assigned to work toward the current guideline, the group working toward 120 as their target number had significantly lower risks for heart disease, stroke, and death. The early results were so conclusive that the study was concluded a year earlier than planned; publication of the complete findings is expected in the next few months, and possible changes to the current guidelines are anticipated. This New York Times article consults numerous experts to examine the issue from all angles.

(Lower Blood Pressure Guidelines Could Be ‘Lifesaving,’ Federal Study Says; New York Times)

Other News

Topics: Hospice, Dementia, Health News, Nutrition, Heart Disease, Smoking