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Overcoming Common Senior Eating Issues

By Jonathan Wells, 8:00 am on

Seniors have specific nutritional needs that must be met in order to promote health, longevity, and quality of life. If you provide care for a senior loved one and have noticed a recent change in his or her weight or specific problems during mealtime, it may be time to modify your loved one’s meal plan and what you’re serving. Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of senior care in Douglas County, shares some of the common issues that may be troubling your loved one at meal time and suggestions for how to resolve them.

  • Physical Changes – With age, it can become difficult to chew and swallow as the muscles in the jaw and throat weaken. Poor oral health can also make it harder, and even painful, to eat. Caregivers should cut foods into smaller portions to facilitate swallowing, and can opt for soups and stews which offer a consistency that is easy to eat and digest.
  • Decrease in Appetite – Varying metabolic levels can leave a senior with little to no appetite. While your loved one may not like his or her favorite meal any longer, studies report that most people continue to enjoy the foods they grew up eating. Try to prepare comfort foods that your loved one ate frequently as a child to help him or her overcome a lack of appetite.
  • Sugar Cravings – In some cases, a senior loved one may overindulge in sugary foods and drinks, often as the result of a change in taste buds. Studies show that while a senior may not be able to identify certain food properties such as salt content, many continue to crave sweet foods. Trade out your loved one’s sugary favorites for foods that are naturally sweet such as yams, fresh fruits, or bell peppers to promote a healthy diet.
  • Bland Meals – Again, changes in taste buds can make all meals taste bland or similar. Try to amp up the flavor in your loved one’s meals by using spices such as cinnamon, basil, oregano, and cilantro. Adding citrus, like lemon, can also add another dimension to a bland dish.
  • Health Issues – Conditions like Parkinson’s, stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s can make it difficult for seniors to use utensils, swallow, or sit at the table for long-periods of time. Along with eliminating as many outside distractions as possible, consider portable meals. For instance, cut foods into smaller bites that don’t have to be eaten at the dinner table, and opt for smoothies packed with healthy fruits and vegetables to ensure nutritional needs are met.

If you need help with meal planning for a senior loved one or could use respite from your caregiving responsibilities, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Douglas County today and learn more about our flexible hourly and live-in care plans. Our trained caregivers also provide post-stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Douglas County if your loved one has more complex care needs. Call 720-441-3522 for more information or to request a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.