Published on February 27, 2014
Wellness Care: Proper Nutrition for the Elderly
Proper nutrition is important for all of us. It may be even more important for our elderly loved ones. Malnutrition is more common in elderly persons than in younger adults and is typically caused by chewing or swallowing disorders, cardiac insufficiency, depression, social deprivation and loneliness. It is important to do what you can to make sure that the person you are caring for enjoys their food and eats a healthy, balanced diet.
A parent or loved one that is not eating right can cause a lot of concern among those who love them. We know intuitively that a good diet is important and studies show that undernutrition is associated with a worse prognosis and is an independent risk factor for morbidity and mortality.
In other words, elderly people that don’t eat right tend to get sick more often and the illness is more severe. Here are some helpful tips that may help you improve your loved one’s ability to eat and/or improve their appetite.
Water, Water, Water Make sure the person you are caring for has plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which can lead to appetite suppression. Image: http://medimyth.blogspot.in/2012/10/wake-upin-morning-drink-water-in-empty.html
Keep it small Instead of three large meals a day, which can look overwhelming to someone in poor health, serve six small meals a day.
Bulk up on the amount of calories per meal For instance, you can add protein powder mix to shakes or drinks to increase calories.
Soft is better Serve soft foods such as pudding, ice cream or fruit smoothies because they can be tasty and easy to digest. Counseling and education involving dietary modifications, activity recommendations, medication management, self-monitoring, prognosis, coping skills, social support, caregiver stress, and spiritual needs are critical components maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Make it tasty Don’t serve bland or sour tasting foods.
Put the power in their hands When possible, give the person you are caring for the decisionmaking power to decide what they would like to eat; it helps them to feel in control.
Make it pretty Present appetizing looking meals by accenting the plate with a garnish (i.e. strawberry or melon). Also, make the dining experience pleasant for the person you are caring for by playing soft music or talking to them about the day’s events while they are eating to take their minds off not feeling well.
Write it down Keep a food diary about the person you are caring for and include: what food they have problems or complications digesting and their daily food menus, and review it with their doctor or dietician for feedback. They may be experiencing digestive problems or irritable bowl syndrome due to their menu.
Work it out Try and get them moving to work up an appetite. If overall exercise such as walking isn’t possible, have them fold the laundry or peel vegetable.
For more information on improving senior nutrition or care for an elderly loved one, BrightStar Care can help.
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