When it comes to our health, positive or negative outcomes can often start at the dinner table. It’s no wonder the saying, “you are what you eat” is so common; it’s because it is true! Healthy nutrition can help any of us feel better, look better, and stay healthy.
Unfortunately, there are barriers to good nutrition that come with age. Here are just a few, along with potential solutions that can make eating well a part of your, or your loved one’s, daily routine.
Have you ever noticed that your aging loved one just can’t seem to get enough seasoning on their entree? Tastebuds slowly lose their power as we age, meaning food is more likely to taste bland when we are 80 than when we are 30. However, adding too much salt can cause a litany of other health problems.
If you or your aging loved one isn’t eating because food just doesn’t taste good, start by adding more seasoning that isn’t salt. Boil rice in broth instead of water, or experiment with stronger spices like cumin or curry. You don’t need extra salt to increase the flavor; you just need to experiment in the kitchen a bit.
Older adults are more likely to experience a decreased general appetite than their younger peers. This happens for a variety of reasons, including medication side effects or complications from chronic conditions. A decreased appetite can often lead to rapid weight loss, which can only exacerbate health challenges.
If you or your aging loved one simply doesn’t have an appetite, focus on creating smaller snacks or meals throughout the day instead of a large plate of food three times daily. Smoothies are excellent options as you can pack them with protein (just add a spoonful of peanut butter) or with extra nutrition (a handful of spinach goes a long way), and they are easier to tolerate than a meal.
Sometimes, seniors simply don’t eat well because they struggle with preparing meals in general. For example, a senior with a history of falls may be nervous to stand at the stove while their pasta boils. Or, another senior living with severe arthritis may have challenges when trying to cut an apple or open a wrapped head of lettuce.
In these cases especially, a consistent visit from a CaringGivers caregiver can make all the difference in healthy nutrition. Our caregivers are happy to prepare meals for their clients as well as package up individual portions to tuck away into the fridge that can be enjoyed later.
For seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, nutrition often takes a backseat in their daily life. The process of meal planning and preparation is complex and even adults in the earlier stages of cognitive decline can struggle with preparing and eating a healthy meal.
Family members can assist with this by calling their loved ones during meal times and staying on the phone with them as the senior prepares and eats their food. However, this can often be unrealistic for many family members. A visiting caregiver can stand in that gap and assist with mealtime activities.
Grocery Shopping Difficulties
Finally, perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to healthy nutrition for seniors at home is the act of grocery shopping itself. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many older adults are continuing to play it safe by avoiding crowded areas like the supermarket. However, they are also less likely to utilize technology, like delivery services, to get the groceries they need.
At CaringGivers, we have found that more and more seniors throughout the D.C. and Maryland area are needing assistance with grocery shopping. We are always happy to help! Our team of caregivers is ready to take on this errand either by your side or on our own in order to get you the ingredients and groceries you need for the next days or weeks.
Nutrition can be difficult as we age, but the right assistance from CaringGivers caregivers can make it much easier. Call us today to talk more about your challenges so that we can build a plan customized just for your needs.