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How Can I Encourage My Elderly Loved One to Eat?

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As seniors age, they often lose their appetite. This phenomenon can be caused by a myriad of factors, ranging from physiological changes to medication side effects. Here are a few great ways to encourage your senior loved one to eat.

Boost Nutrient Density

If your loved one isn’t eating, it’s only natural for you to serve larger helpings of food, but for seniors without much appetite, increased portion sizes can be off-putting. Instead of adding more food to the plate, add more nutrients to the food. It’s easy to add healthy, calorie-dense ingredients to main dishes. Consider using nut butters, avocado, and olive oil.

Helping a senior get proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting, so it’s important for 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. Huntsville, AL, 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.

Check Prescriptions

If your loved one’s appetite suddenly vanishes, a new prescription may be the culprit. Many medications commonly prescribed to seniors cause dry mouth or make food taste metallic. If dry mouth is limiting your loved one’s appetite, give him or her sugarless gum to regulate salivary gland production, making mealtime more appealing. Oral rinses can also enhance the eating experience. If your loved one claims food tastes odd or metallic, you might want to add flavorful herbs and spices to conceal the metallic taste. When medication alters the taste of food, seniors often notice that meat has the most altered flavor. If chicken, beef, or fish simply don’t taste right, your loved one might respond well to vegetarian sources of protein. Consider beans, tofu, nuts, and quinoa.

A trained caregiver can provide 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 services. Huntsville, AL, 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.

Prevent Dehydration

Dehydration can act as an appetite suppressant, and a surprising number of seniors are consistently dehydrated. To prevent dehydration, make sure your loved one always has easy access to water. Purchase a lightweight water bottle your loved one can carry throughout the day, and try to refill it periodically. Conversely, don’t let your loved one drink too much at mealtimes. Beverages are a necessary component of safe eating, but consuming too much liquid at meals can limit a senior’s appetite.

Get Experimental

When feeding seniors with low appetites, making sure they consume the correct amount of nutrients is always the foremost concern. Even so, you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with mealtime options. Try serving food at various temperatures. Some seniors have a surprising preference for hot, room temperature, or cold foods. You can also experiment with different flavor palettes. Taste buds change with age, and seniors who were formerly partial to salty foods may develop a sweet tooth best sated by fresh fruits.

Provide Options

Some seniors lose their appetite due to depression, loneliness, or emotional distress. If the poor appetite is more psychological than physiological, offering choices can provide a sense of control. Giving too many choices, on the other hand, can be overwhelming. Instead of simply asking “What do you want for dinner?” try offering three or four meal options. If your loved one takes an interest, consider involving him or her in weekly meal-planning sessions.

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 Huntsville 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. Call Home Care Assistance today at (256) 716-9940 to learn about our high-quality in-home services. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (256) 716-9940.