Is Your Senior Eating Right?

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Malnourishment is generally a problem people associate with poverty, but lack of resources is just one of the many factors that can play into why not getting proper nutrition is a big issue for seniors from all walks of life.

At Home Instead Senior Care of the South East Valley, we are often contacted by families who want us to help their senior achieve better nutrition. The reasons for the senior’s diet getting off track in the first place are always varied but they can include:

• Not wanting to cook a balanced meal “just for one” or eat alone
• Not being able to get to the grocery store consistently to buy fresh food
• Food “just doesn’t taste good” due to medications or taste buds that have dulled with age
• Loss of appetite due to medications or depression or because seniors need fewer calories than younger adults
• Dental problems make it difficult to chew
• Dementia causes seniors to forget to eat

None of the above changes the fact that seniors need every single bit as many nutrients as everyone else, and by not following the food pyramid they are opening themselves up to a host of potential crises including:

• Dehydration
• Bone density loss
• Weakness or frailty
• Depression
• Disorientation

March was Nutrition Month, but it’s always an important topic to talk to your senior loved one about your concerns regarding their diet and find some ways to improve their nutrition. Here are some possible solutions that might help:

• If your senior is disinterested in cooking a balanced meal just for one or eating alone, perhaps you could set aside a few meals a week to share with them. If that’s not a possibility, consider organizing for one of your senior’s neighbors or friends, or a professional caregiver, to prepare and enjoy some of their weekly meals with them.
• For seniors who don’t have regular transportation to the store, consider using a delivery service (such as the one offered by Safeway) or arranging for someone to take them to the store on a weekly basis or pick things up for them.
• If your senior says that medication or age has dulled their taste buds, try to find at least a few foods in each of the categories of the food pyramid, especially fruits and vegetables, that they do like. Avoid seasoning with salt, instead opting for ingredients like fresh lemon juice and herbs.
• Dental pain can make chewing hard, but in most cases, it is treatable. Make sure your senior is seeing their dentist regularly and address any dental or gum issues as soon as they arise.
• For seniors with dementia, mealtimes can happen at odd hours or, sometimes, not at all. This may require calls or visits to remind your senior to eat, or having someone there to prepare the meal and sit with them as they eat it. Try not to worry too much if your senior is eating well, just not at traditional times. The important thing is that they are getting the nutrients they need.
For more information, please contact Home Instead Senior Care at 480-827-4343 or like us on Facebook.



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