A Web site for older adults makes aging-related health information and the importance of good nutrition easily accessible for seniors, family members, caregivers and friends, providing reliable and easy-to-understand health information.
NIHSeniorHealth.gov was developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This site features authoritative and up-to-date health information from NIH Institutes and Centers, and the American Geriatrics Society also provides independent professional review of some of the material on the site, according to site documentation.
Each health topic includes general background information, open-captioned videos, quizzes and frequently asked questions (FAQs), with new topics added on a regular basis.
NIA designed the site through research on the types of cognitive changes that are a part of the normal aging process — such as memory, text comprehension, information processing speed and vision — that can interfere with older adults’ use of computers.
NIA states that it extensively tested the site with adults age 60 to 88 to ensure that it is easy for them to see, understand and navigate information provided in a senior-friendly manner.
Some important components of the Web site are large print, short, easy-to-read segments of information, simple navigation, a “talking” function that reads the text aloud, and special buttons to enlarge the text or turn on high contrast to make text more readable. A tool bar is at the top of each page to activate these features.
NIHSeniorHealth states that it makes every effort to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which aims to make federal electronic technology accessible for persons with disabilities.
Various diseases and conditions that are more likely to occur with age are listed on the site — problems with taste and smell, diabetes in the elderly, balance problems, stroke, urinary incontinence, to name just a few — with detailed information available by clicking on the MedlinePlus link that is available for each subject.
MedlinePlus is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health and can be accessed directly as well as on the NIH site.
It provides information on health topics, prescription drugs and supplements, a medical encyclopedia with pictures and diagrams, a dictionary of medical words, health information in over 40 languages and other topics,
Nutrition plays a crucial role for seniors because, as we age, appetites can increase or decrease from a number of reasons such as changes in hormone levels, mood swings, medications and stress.
Seniors may tend to eat smaller meals or skip meals entirely. Malnutrition is one of the main reasons seniors are admitted to the hospital, especially those that live alone.
This Web site also offers advice on “Healthy Eating after 50,” health tips on dietary needs of aging women, signs of malnourishment, and how the diet and cognitive ability may play a role in heart disease.
The NIH site states that older adults are at increased risk for food-borne illness.
“As we age, our bodies produce less stomach acid, making it harder to get rid of harmful bacteria that enter our digestive system. Our digestion may slow down, allowing harmful bacteria to stay in our bodies longer. Also, changes in taste and smell can keep us from knowing when food is spoiled,” states the NIH.
An older person who gets a food-borne illness is likely to be sicker longer, and if hospitalized, is likely to have a longer hospital stay, states the NIH.
Information, click on “Site Index” for a topic directory,