WMU News

Expert on geriatric health and nutrition visits WMU

March 2, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The role of good nutrition during later life is the topic of a series of lectures in March being presented by a national expert on dietetics.

Dr. Ronnie Chernoff, professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, is visiting WMU, the Battle Creek Veteran's Affairs Medical Center and Kalamazoo Valley Community College with support from Project AGE (Alliance for Gerontology Education).

In addition to serving as professor, Chernoff directs the Arkansas Geriatric Education Center at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging at the University of Arkansas and serves as associate director of the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center for the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. On Thursday, March 15, she will discuss the effect of age on nutrient needs, the types and effectiveness of supplements and cautions for supplement use in a presentation titled "Nutrition in Older Adults: Diet, Supplements and Herbal Remedies." The presentation is open to the public and scheduled for 4 p.m. in the Media Room on the concourse level of the University Medical and Health Services Building at 1000 Oakland Drive.

On Friday, March 16, Chernoff will present a daylong session at the Battle Creek Veteran's Affairs Medical Center on special topics in geriatric nutrition. The session, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is titled "Nutritional Status of the Elderly" and will address assessing nutrition status of elderly and appropriate nutrition interventions in ill older adults. Continuing education credits are available to dietitians and nurses. For more information on the session, call Terri Biggerstaff-Bury at (616) 966-5600, ext. 5223, or <terri.biggerstaff-bury@med.va.gov>.

Chernoff will conduct a half-day session titled "Geriatric Nutrition and Oral Health" from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 17, at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. During this session, Chernoff will teach participants about oral health and its impact on nutrition and how changes in taste and smell are related to oral health and nutrition. For more information on this session, call Lora Lennen at (616) 372-5349 or <llennen@kvcc.edu>.

Chernoff's visit comes as more attention is being focused on health care for the elderly due to the rapidly rising number of older people in the United States. Because of this trend, health care practitioners must be able to provide appropriate and effective care for older patients.

Since nutritional well-being contributes greatly to health, productivity, self-sufficiency and the overall quality of life, diet increasingly is being recognized for its importance in extending good health later in life. Chernoff's presentations are intended to raise awareness of the nutrition needs of older people, educate people about the use of nutritional supplements and herbal remedies for the elderly, open a discussion of appropriate and effective nutrition for older people who are ill and explore interrelationships between oral health and nutrition.

Chernoff received her Ph.D. in health professions education in 1983 from Columbia University and has edited three books on health- and geriatric health-related topics. Those include "Communicating as Professionals," "Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the Elderly" and "Geriatric Nutrition: A Health Professional's Handbook." She also has written nearly 30 articles in professional journals and more than 30 book chapters.

Her professional activities include serving as president of the American Dietetic Association and on the board of directors, board of advisors and as a geriatrics section advisor for the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. She also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Nutrition for the Elderly and on committees for the Gerontological Society of America.

Project AGE is a preprofessional allied health training grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resource Administration, Bureau of Health Professionals. Additional support for Chernoff's visit is being provided by the Southwest Michigan District Dietetic Association; Kalamazoo Valley Community College and the KVCC Dental Hygiene Department; Bronson Methodist Hospital Senior Adult Services and Nutrition Services; and the WMU Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

For more information, call Project AGE co-directors Sandra Glista at (616) 387-8064 or Maija Petersons at (616) 387-3710.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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