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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/796

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

strict moderation should be the guiding maxim. The diet suitable for most aged persons is that which contains much nutritive material in a small bulk, and its quantity should be in proportion to the appetite and power of digestion. Animal food, well cooked, should be taken sparingly and not more often than twice a day, except under special circumstances. Dr. Parkes advocates rice as a partial substitute for meat when the latter is found to disagree with old persons. "Its starch-grains are very digestible, and it supplies nitrogen in moderate amount, well fitted to the worn and slowly repaired tissues of the aged." Its bulk, however, is sometimes a disadvantage; in small quantities it is a valuable addition to milk and to stewed fruits.

The amount of food taken should be divided between three or four meals at fairly regular intervals. A sense of fullness or oppression after eating ought not to be disregarded. It indicates that the food taken has been either too abundant or of improper quality. For many elderly people the most suitable time for the principal meal is between 1 and 2 p. m. As the day advances the digestive powers become less, and even a moderately substantial meal taken in the evening may seriously overtask them. Undigested food is a potent cause of disturbed sleep, an evil often very troublesome to old people, and one which ought to be carefully guarded against.

It is an easier task to lay down rules with regard to the use of alcoholic liquors by elderly people. The Collective Investigation Committee of the British Medical Association has lately issued a "Report on the Connection of Disease with Habits of Intemperance," and two at least of the conclusions arrived at are worth quoting: "Habitual indulgence in alcoholic liquors, beyond the most moderate amount, has a distinct tendency to shorten life, the average shortening being roughly proportional to the degree of indulgence. Total abstinence and habitual temperance augment considerably the chance of death from old age or natural decay, without special pathological lesion." Subject, however, to a few exceptions, it is not advisable that a man sixty-five or seventy years of age, who has taken alcohol in moderation all his life, should suddenly become an abstainer. Old age can not readily accommodate itself to changes of any kind, and to many old people a little good wine with their meals is a source of great comfort. To quote again from Ecclesiasticus, "Wine is as good as life to a man, if it be drunk moderately, for it was made to make men glad." Elderly persons, particularly at the close of the day, often find that their nervous energy is exhausted, and require a little stimulant to induce them to take a necessary supply of proper nourishment, and perhaps to aid the digestive powers to convert their food to a useful purpose. In the debility of old