The Interdisciplinary Care Section of this issue of the Journal of Gerontological Nursing features a timely article by Gilmore, Escobedo, Elliot, Spiiier, Strickland, Jones, and Allen on intravenous (IV) nutrition. Prompted by reports of dehydration and malnutrition among nursing home residents, the issue of better nutrition for older adults is receiving increasing attention from a number of federal agencies and groups, including the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), and the General Accounting Office. In an effort to facilitate identification and prompt treatment of nutrition-related problems in this population, two important new tools have been developed. The first is an educational tool called, "Nutrition Care Alerts," which was developed by the Nutrition Screening Initiative (NSI). The NSI is a broad-based interdisciplinary coalition composed of nurses, family physicians, dietitians, gerontologists/geriatricians, and others dedicated to improving the nutrition of frail older adults. The Nutrition Care Alerts tool will be distributed to caregivers and nursing homes nationwide through a variety of state agencies and organizations and private industry mechanisms, and will be pilot tested through HCFA regional networks. The second tool is called the «DETERMINE Your Nutritional Health Checklist." It is a short (10-item), valid method for identifying older adults at risk for poor nutritional status and for predicting health care costs among high-risk older adults. Interested readers can obtain copies of both instruments by mailing a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the Nutrition Screening Initiative office, 1010 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20007, or by sending a message to their e-mail address at NSI@gmmb.com. The nutritional health of older adults should be an issue of concern to all gerontological nurses, regardless of their clinical setting. I encourage readers to investigate these new assessment tools for use in practice; to advocate for legislation such as reauthorization of the Older Americans Act that provides nutrition support services such as Congregate Dining and HomeDelivered Meals; and to continue to foster Healthy People 2000 and 2010 objectives related to the nutritional health of older adults.
Kathleen C. Buckwalter