If your senior loved one has a poor appetite and is unable to consume a healthy diet, he or she may lose weight, develop a nutritional deficiency, or become weak. You need to develop a plan of care to ensure your loved one eats well. Here are some ways to promote eating so your loved one stays nourished and healthy.
Ensure Proper Texture
If your loved one has dysphagia because of a stroke or has poor dentition and is unable to chew properly, eating may be difficult. Pureeing the food may make it easier to eat. Motility problems of the esophagus may also make it difficult to eat because your loved one may fear the food will get stuck in the throat. Chin tucks and other exercises can ensure the food goes down so your loved one can better enjoy mealtime.
Explain Dietary Restrictions
If your loved one has dietary restrictions because of medications or health conditions, he or she may have unrealistic fears about eating. For example, if your loved one takes prescription anticoagulant medications, he or she may be advised against eating large amounts of green leafy vegetables high in vitamin K content. Vitamin K can interfere with the anti-clotting effects of prescription anticoagulants, raising the risk for heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes. While minimizing the intake of green leafy vegetables is essential for people taking anticoagulants, some seniors, especially those with cognitive deficits, may have an aversion not only to green leafy vegetables rich in vitamin K but also to all foods that are green. Another example may be the need to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice before or after taking statin drugs. Your loved one may be fearful of all citrus fruits and juices and stop consuming nutrient-dense oranges, orange juice, and tangerines for fear they’ll interfere with his or her medications. Explaining dietary restrictions and allaying fears can help your loved one make better food choices so a variety of foods can be consumed.
A trained caregiver can provide companionship and additional support to encourage your loved one to eat. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care service. Roseville families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Appeal to Your Loved One’s Palate
As people age, their preferences for foods may change as a result of taste bud changes or a reduced appetite. While you should make sure your loved one consumes nutritious foods, he or she may tire of vegetables, fish, and fruits. Instead, your loved one may have a taste for pizza, tacos, or a hamburger. Allow your loved one to eat what he or she wants, within reason, to prevent weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. While you should offer appealing foods to your loved one, make sure they don’t interfere with physician-ordered dietary restrictions.
Helping a senior get proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting, so it’s important for family caregivers to make time to attend to their own wellbeing. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Roseville, CA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.
Assist with Feeding
If your loved one has difficulty with hand mobility or grasping utensils, he or she may avoid eating. Gently offer to help with feeding if your loved one is unable to eat independently. If your loved one resists your help, talk to his or her physician about a referral to an occupational therapist, who will work with your loved one to increase manual dexterity and hand strength.
Professional caregivers with training in nutrition and healthy habits can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement for seniors who have lost interest in eating. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust Roseville senior home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life. We will work with you to create a customized home care plan that’s suited for your loved one’s unique needs. Call the Home Care Assistance team at 916.226.3737 today.