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Eating healthy is the best way for your senior loved ones to enhance their overall well-being so they can enjoy their golden years to the fullest. Seniors need to consume a well-balanced diet filled with essential nutrients to help their bodies function. If you are caring for an aging parent or relative, here are some tips to ensure that your loved ones get the nutrition they need.
Assess the situation
Convincing your senior loved ones to eat healthy meals can be extra difficult, especially if they blatantly refuse or have no appetite. It is important that you investigate thoroughly so you can determine the main cause of the problem. Make sure that you rule out any health conditions or physical circumstances causing them to eat less. Have a serious conversation with your senior loved ones and patiently listen to their concerns.
During your home visits, carefully observe how they prepare their food or the kinds of activities that they normally do, as some may hinder them from eating properly. For instance, they might be having difficulty preparing their meals due to arthritis, consider having healthy meals delivered to their homes instead. Iif their teeth are preventing them from chewing their food properly, make sure to bring them to the dentist right away.
Consider the effects of their medications
Some medications can alter the taste of food and cause nausea, which can be a factor in why they skip their meals. If they are unable to switch medications, think of ways to make their meals pleasant to eat. If their food tastes metallic, avoid using metallic utensils and switch to paper or plastic in the meantime. Increase their protein intake and make their food more visually appealing. If their water tastes differently, you can improve it by adding cucumber, lemon, or flavored liquid enhancers.
If you decide to use a water enhancer, make sure to check the ingredients, as some of them contain artificial sweeteners that may be detrimental in the long run. If their medications cause dry mouth, ask your loved ones to brush their teeth, use ginger sprays, chew sugar-free gum, or rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash before eating. Any of these practices can help stimulate their salivary glands, enhancing their sense of taste and lessening their discomfort.
Make mealtime and preparation a fun experience
For our elderly loved ones, eating and preparing their meals alone can be lonely. As much as possible, accompany your senior parent or relative whenever they go grocery shopping. Ask them what their favorite food is and use this opportunity to recommend healthy alternatives. For instance, if they are fond of eating crackers, choose those that are multi-grain or low in salt. Offer multiple choices and help them read the label contents. Prepare their meals together and look for ways to make the activity enjoyable and memorable. By doing this, your loved ones can associate the food you prepared as a fun memory, which might motivate them to eat it frequently. In addition, they will most likely look forward to these cooking activities, increasing the chances of them maintaining a healthy diet.
Give them different food options
Another reason why seniors tend to eat less is that they often eat the same meals repeatedly. Make sure that you offer a variety of food choices to your loved ones. Avoid the food that they dislike and honor their preferences. Remember that at their age, they may feel that they are losing their independence. Providing them with food choices can somehow give them some control over their lives. If they enjoy eating processed foods, try to search for healthy alternatives that are similar in some ways. Check online for new recipes so you can provide them with different dishes.
Inform them of the benefits of eating healthy meals
Listing the benefits of eating healthy might help your loved ones become more motivated to continue their healthy meal plans. While some may already be aware of the advantages, others are probably still in the denial phase. They might think that eating nutritious meals won’t be able to help them at all. When discussing the benefits with your loved ones, do it carefully and show them that you are coming from a place of concern. Highlight how good eating habits can help them physically, mentally, and emotionally. Remember to also focus on the disadvantages and show them how poor eating can curtail their independence.
Make their food easier to eat
Aging adults need to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to help prevent certain diseases. If your loved one has difficulty chewing, you can turn their vegetable dishes into smoothies or milkshakes. You can enhance it further by adding protein powder. Offer them softer foods to ease their pain when eating. You can also make nutritious soups and amplify them by adding cream or shredded meat. Consider adding minced vegetables with their scrambled eggs and upgrade their protein by adding powdered skim milk with their pasta. Remember to check if they have a problem swallowing and ask their doctor how to address it.
Serve small frequent healthy meals
Some seniors get overwhelmed at the sight of a large plate with big food portions. Rather than serving them three large meals, give them small frequent meals instead. To make it more manageable, you can cook it in large batches and store them in multiple containers. Your senior loved ones can quickly heat them whenever they are hungry. Make sure that they also have plenty of healthy snacks, so they can eat them whenever they are not in the mood to eat full meals. If you cannot continuously look after your loved ones, consider enlisting the help of a professional caregiver company such as Husky Senior Care that offers in-home care for seniors.
Eating healthy can be a challenge for our elderly loved ones. We must assist them in any way possible to ensure that they get proper nutrition, so they can age gracefully and comfortably.