How to Manage Nutrition for Elderly Loved Ones
Ensuring a loved one receives adequate nutrition to maintain health can be a challenge.
Here’s how to support your loved one’s nutrition as he or she ages:
Understand the Difficulties
Did you know that 30 percent of elderly people living in care facilities and 10 percent of those living at home suffer from malnutrition? This is often due to one or more complications related to aging, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Side effects from medications
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of the sense of taste or smell
Determining the specific struggles your loved one is dealing with can help you decide the best way to approach mealtimes.
Stick with Familiar Favorites
Is there a dish your loved one remembers fondly from his or her childhood? Were there special foods he or she enjoyed preparing and eating? Serving these foods may bring back good memories and create positive associations with mealtime.
You can increase the nutrition of beloved dishes by using whole, unprocessed ingredients in the preparation and making substitutions like using vegetable or fruit puree instead of oil in baked goods, swapping refined grains for whole or recreating sauces using nuts and seeds in place of heavier ingredients like cream or butter.
Having too much going on at once during a meal can be distracting and cause your loved one to lose interest in the food.
Try serving only a couple of options at a time, starting with the most nutritious, and get rid of other distractions like TV or radio.
If your loved one has a hard time with utensils, serve foods he or she can eat by hand. Cut large pieces of food into bite-sized chunks to make it easier to handle and chew.
Don’t Force the Issue
Your loved one doesn’t have to eat at set times or finish everything you serve.
If he or she decides not to eat, don’t argue or try to make deals. Pleading or coercing doesn’t work and only serves to create a negative atmosphere surrounding food and eating.
Instead, put the food away, and try serving it again later when your loved one is more receptive.
Once you’ve established a mealtime routine suitable for your loved one’s needs, stick with it. Doing what works makes meals more enjoyable and helps your loved one maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
If you’re in need of assistance planning and preparing nutritious meals, Caring Home Care can help! Our certified caregivers are trained to provide your loved one with the meals they need to remain strong and healthy.