Nutrition and eating well is important for persons of all ages. But it can be difficult for seniors with health issues and physical limitations to obtain the nutrients they need for a well balanced diet. In 15 to 50 percent of all seniors, malnutrition, weight loss, disorientation, lethargy, loss, and lightheadedness of appetite can occur and be easily mistaken for an illness or disease. If you’re looking after a loved one, there are a number of things you can perform to make sure they’re getting the proper diet and nutrition they need. Professionals in Houston nursing homes and facilities all around the country are trained to watch for signs of malnutrition and adopt the proper steps to remedy the problem.
The first step to combating this issue with your loved one is knowing what to look for. Take time to observe their eating habits and not only at special occasions. If they live alone, who buys his or her groceries? If they live in a long term care facility, visit during mealtimes. Next, look for the physical signs: poor healing, easy bruising, dental problems and weight loss (changes in how clothing fits). Finally, know their medications. Many drugs have an effect on appetite, digestion and the uptake of nutrients.
The best way to see if they’re having problems is to pay special attention to their eating habits and ask questions. Be attentive to their needs. Ask them to be open and frank about how they’re feeling and what they would enjoy eating. Listed below are possible reasons why your loved one is not eating well.
It is common for appetites to decrease as a person ages. A senior’s sense of smell and taste begin to slowly diminish, affecting their capacity to enjoy food. If a meal is not appetizing, seniors are less likely to east as much of it as they should.
Digging Deeper into Malnutrition
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause reduced appetite, nausea or even make some foods taste differently. Even though their bodies need the food and calories, seniors are less hungry due to their medications. Try feeding them a variety of foods or ask their doctor if a different medication can be used.
Missing teeth, ill-fitting dentures, jaw pain, or mouth sores can make chewing food very painful. Dental health gets worse as we age. All of these elements could be making it difficult for your loved to enjoy a meal.
To compensate for a limited income, some seniors may cut back on grocery expenses by purchasing cheaper and less nourishing food. Lacking the money to pay for healthy foods can result in a variety of health problems. Try to help them come forward with a suitable budget that will still enable them to purchase healthy foods.
Shopping for groceries is becoming more difficult for everyone, not just the elderly. Many food stores are placed in busy shopping malls or on crowded streets. Seniors have to drive to the store, making their way through heavy traffic, and park away from the door. When you add snow and ice to the mix, grocery shopping can be a dangerous feat for the elderly.
All seniors become frail with age, but for people with debilitating conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, or a disability, even the most simple tasks can become impossible. Opening a can, dicing vegetables or standing long enough to cook a meal can become too difficult to achieve.
Poor memory, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia can impair a senior’s ability to eat a variety of foods regularly because they cannot remember what to buy at the store. Some seniors eat the same foods over and over without even realizing it, or they skip meals entirely because they cannot remember the last time they ate.
Life becomes more difficult with age. Loved ones have passed on or live far away, our bodies begin to fail us, our minds begin to deteriorate, and we become very lonely. Depression can affect a senior’s appetite or make them feel apathetic about caring for their own health. Left untreated, depression can give rise to many nutrition and health problems.
To improve the diet of your loved one, try offering nutritionally-dense foods, enhancing the aromas or flavors of the food, make eating a social event, encourage them to bite on healthy foods, take care of dental problems, taking them to the grocery store to help them shop, or even consider getting government assistance.