A well-balanced diet is important for well-being at any age.
Many elderly people eat less as their metabolism slows, but occasionally some seniors wont eat properly or hardly at all. Malnutrition in the elderly is increasing at a worrying rate with an estimated 1 million over 65’s in the UK. This can be emotionally distressing for care-providers and family. We would like to highlight some of the reasons why Mum or Dad refuse to eat and offer some common-sense solutions.
Reduction in Senses of Smell and Taste
As we age our sense of smell and taste diminishes. This can make food less appetising. Sometimes small strokes can cause a loss of these senses. What can we do to encourage eating? Seniors may find visually attractive food more appealing. Colourful or interestingly presented meals served on colourful plates may help. Smaller and more frequent meals may be easier to tackle than one large plate of food. By intensifying flavours by using healthy alternatives to salt and sugar, such as fresh herbs and citrus can over-come the dulled senses.
Macular degeneration and cataract can alter a senior’s visual perception of their meals. Poor eyesight can detract from the enjoyment of food. If the food cannot be seen clearly then it is difficult to enjoy it. By separating the meal into clear parts on the plate and using contrasting plate colours will help form recognition.
Slower Digestion and Medications
Unfortunately, some medications for Alzeimers and depression, have side effects of slowing the digestive system. This combined with slower digestion as part of the aging process can lead to a loss of appetite. Consult your GP to adjust the regime to minimise these negative effects.
Constipation can be uncomfortable and gives a feeling of fullness which can discourage eating. By increasing fibre and fluid in the diet as well as taking some exercise can get things moving and promote appetite.
Oral Health Issues
Problems with teeth, gums and dentures can make chewing difficult. Clearly regular dental check-ups should be encouraged to ensure that food can be consumed normally. Soft-eating foods such as meals in sauces with smaller solids/particulates can help, such as cottage pie. Steering clear of more solid meals such as steak, and instead eating food in sauces will help
Dining alone can be a deterrent for meal preparation. We all enjoy a meal when it is shared with friends or family. Mealtimes can become lonely events for Seniors. When they are on their own, with no one to talk to, the motivation to cook can wain. By providing a varied selection of convenient, easy-cooked ready meals can promote regular eating.
If possible, try to share at least one meal each day with your parent. Recruit other family members, friends and neighbours to join them regularly for lunch, dinner, or even tea and an afternoon snack. Look for local “meal events” at places like senior centres, churches and other community organisations.
Reluctance to Cook
If a senior is unwilling or unable to cook their own nutritious meals, it can take a toll on their health. Many family carers choose to cook for their loved ones. However, it can be difficult to juggle work and family life, especially if the loved-one is some distance away. Other options include Meals on Wheels and paid meal delivery services like Parsley Box. By choosing a trusted and wholesome ready meal solution will go some way to peace of mind www.parsleybox.com