Problems and Solutions to Helping Elderly Family Members Eat Well

Problems and Solutions to Helping Elderly Family Members Eat Well

When we're children, our parents urge us to eat our veggies and drink our milk. But as parents age, roles are often reversed, and it's the adult kids who worry about mom and dad's nutritional needs, with good reason.
Eating well is important at every age. Good nutrition affects the quality of our lives, helps keep us healthy and helps speed healing if we become ill. Unfortunately, experts say many adults ages 65 and older don't get the nutrition they need. One way to ensure that your elderly loved ones get the nutrition they need is to make food preparation as easy as possible for them.
There are many reasons that older adults may have poor nutrition.
Self-care Steps for Seniors and Nutrition
If they have difficulty chewing:
* Chop or grind foods.
* Choose ground beef instead of meat.
* Choose easy to chew or liquid alternatives, such as soft canned fruit (applesauce or pears), cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream, mashed potatoes and eggs.
* Consider fruit/vegetable juices, nutritional drinks, milk shakes or fruit smoothies.
If their appetite is affected:
* Eat smaller meals and snacks frequently throughout the day.
* Exercise more often, it may spark your appetite.
If cooking is difficult:
* Use a microwave oven to cook frozen or prepared foods.
* Participate in meal programs offered by many senior citizens groups.
* Consider moving somewhere where meals are prepared, such as a home for senior citizens.
If they don't like eating alone or cooking for one:
* Keep meals in freezer.
* Ask others over for meals.
* Take part in group meal programs offered by many senior citizen groups.
If their stomach is upset:
* Try to identify the foods that cause problems and choose nutritious alternatives.
If finances are a problem:
* Buy low-cost healthy foods.
* Use coupons when shopping; look for sales.
* Investigate free sources of food, such as food pantries.
* Consider applying for food stamps.
What You Can Do to Help Out
* Offer to help with the grocery shopping. Make a list together and if necessary, consult a dietitian to help you choose healthy, nutritious foods that your loved ones will enjoy.
* Prepare and freeze meals they can heat in the microwave. If they're forgetful, put the cooking time on each package.
* If they are homebound, look into Meals on Wheels or another program that will deliver prepared meals to their home. Not only will they get nutritious food, they'll have important social contact with a daily visitor.
* If they live with you, let them help you prepare meals. Cooking will help boost their appetite--and their mood.