Eating a healthy diet is important at any age. Family caregivers know that that may be especially true for their older family members. However, it can sometimes be hard for caregivers to get seniors to eat. Getting older affects appetite and can cause a lack of interest in eating. In addition, certain medical conditions and cognitive problems can interfere with the senior’s ability to eat. If you are a caregiver struggling to get your aging relative to eat, below are 5 strategies for getting seniors to eat.
#1: Make Food Easier to Chew and Swallow Some older adults have difficulty chewing and swallowing food. Caregivers can help to overcome these problems by serving softer foods. Try offering foods like mashed potatoes, cheese, or oatmeal. You may even need to puree foods for them. It can also help to cut foods into smaller bites.
#2: Stick to an Eating Schedule When seniors eat at the same times each day, it can signal the body when it is time to eat and make them feel hungry at mealtimes. Offer foods at these times even if the older adult isn’t saying they are hungry. People don’t feel hunger as keenly with age.
#3: Avoid Eating Utensils Using forks, knives, and spoons can be hard for some older adults because of problems like tremors, arthritis, or cognitive issues. It can make eating so frustrating for them that they would rather not eat at all. Try making foods they can pick up and eat with their hands, such as chicken strips, sandwiches, raw vegetables, and cheese sticks.
#4: Serve Smaller Portions Because appetite tends to decline with age, caregivers shouldn’t expect elderly people to eat the same amount they do. In fact, being presented with a huge plate of food can be overwhelming. Instead, offer smaller portions. They can always have seconds if they are still hungry. Also, since seniors don’t typically eat as much, it’s important that every bite they do eat is nutritious. Serve foods that are higher in calories while still being nutritious. Include foods like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and cheese in their diet.
#5: Keep Distractions to a Minimum For people with cognitive problems, being in a loud or busy room with lots of distractions can make it hard for them to focus on eating. Turn off the television or radio and keep the room free of clutter. Keep the table setting simple, too. Sometimes busy patterns are confusing to seniors with dementia. A solid colored tablecloth or placemat with a contrasting plate can make it easier for the senior to see the plate and identify the food on it. Sources https://dailycaring.com/6-ways-to-get-seniors-with-no-appetite-to-eat/ https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/senior-nutrition#1
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Elderly Care in Seminole, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At Assisting Hands Home Care Today! 727-748-4211.