Let's speak english !

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In this thirteenth English corner, you will find a contribution dealing with geriatrics. We would like to remind you that our aim is not to teach medicine but to familiarize readers with medical English as used by professionals and patients.

Let's speak english !

Dr. Grub : Good morning, Mrs. Frail. Thanks for coming to see me. I believe Dr. Smith talked to you about our study. 


Mrs. Frail : Yes, that’s right. He said it would be a good idea if I took part. It’s about keeping healthy in old age, isn’t it? 


Dr. Grub : Right. In fact, what we’re interested in is finding out how to improve nutrition in senior citizens like yourself, because malnutrition is a major problem since it can cause frailty and loss of autonomy. It’s very important to keep a healthy varied diet and sometimes elderly people find it difficult to do this. 


Mrs. Frail : I know, I know. Sometimes, I really fancy a nice steak, but it’s so difficult to chew and swallow that I give up. 


Dr. Grub : This is one of the aspects we’ll be looking at. Problems with dentures or missing teeth, problems with salivation et cetera. This is why we’re working with partners in the food industry to develop enriched foods with special textures and enhanced flavours for nursing-home residents and patients in geriatric units. 


Mrs. Frail : Oh yes, that would be wonderful. Food just doesn’t taste the same anymore. In fact, it seems tasteless. 


Dr. Grub : Yes, there are lots of factors involved – your senses of smell and taste diminish as you get older, and then a number of drugs that elderly people take can impair these senses, so we’re going to carry out a study to try to measure all of these factors and see if we can improve the health of older citizens by making food more nutritious and more tempting, because loss of appetite is a major problem too. 


Mrs. Frail : It all sounds very interesting. What do I have to do? 


Dr. Grub : First you’ll have to sign a consent form, which says you agree to take part in the study, and then we’ll ask you to fill in some questionnaires about your eating habits. We’ll need to check your weight and take some blood samples at various times to measure levels of vitamins, proteins and trace elements. After that, we’ll arrange an appointment with a dentist for a check-up. 


Mrs. Frail : Is that all? 


Dr. Grub : Not quite, as well as that, we’d like to do some experiments to see if you’re producing enough saliva, and then check your senses of taste and smell. And when we’ve done all that, we’d like you to join a trial to test some of our ideas to improve nutrition. 


Mrs. Frail : It all sounds a bit complicated. Are you sure I’ll be able to cope? 


Dr. Grub : Don’t worry, Mrs. Frail, you won’t be alone, there’ll be ten other residents taking part and there’ll be a team of specialists every step of the way to make sure there are no problems. There’s nothing that will cause you any distress or discomfort, except for the blood samples, perhaps, but you already know what that’s like. Is there anything else you’d like to know? 


Mrs. Frail : It all seems clear enough, but I suppose I can ask questions later on if I need to. 


Dr. Grub : Yes, of course. 

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Exercise. Find in the text a word or expression (in bold) equivalent to the words or expressions below:

  1. at every stage
  2. attractive
  3. complete
  4. conduct a study
  5. discovering
  6. essential minerals
  7. false teeth
  8. fix a consultation
  9. fragility
  10. home for old people
  11. ingest
  12. manage
  13. masticate
  14. negatively affect
  15. not really
  16. odour
  17. old
  18. old people
  19. intensified taste
  20. small quantity of blood for testing
  21. staying in good health
  22. stop trying
  23. take part in a study
  24. unpleasant feeling
  25. want to have
  26. when you are old
  27. insipid






  1. every step of the way (= à chaque étape)
  2. tempting (= attrayante)
  3. fill in (= remplir)
  4. carry out a study (= réaliser une étude)
  5. finding out (= découvrir)
  6. trace elements (= oligo-éléments)
  7. dentures (= dentier)
  8. arrange an appointment (= prendre un rendez-vous)
  9. frailty (= fragilité)
  10. nursing home (= EHPAD)
  11. swallow (= avaler)
  12. cope (= faire face)
  13. chew (= mâcher)
  14. impair (= altérer)
  15. not quite (= pas tout à fait)
  16. (sense of) smell (= odorat)
  17. elderly (= âgé)
  18. senior citizens (= les seniors)
  19. enhanced flavours (= arômes renforcés)
  20. blood sample (= prise de sang)
  21. keeping healthy (= rester en bonne santé)
  22. give up (= abandonner)
  23. join a trial (= participer à un essai clinique)
  24. discomfort (= gêne)
  25. fancy (= avoir envie de)
  26. in old age (= pendant la vieillesse)
  27. tasteless (= insipide)




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