Older adults often find their appetite decreases with age.
Digestion slows down leaving you feeling fuller for longer. Studies find that the side effects of some medications can slow down the production of saliva. Less effective taste buds can make foods taste less enjoyable. Tooth or jaw pain can also impact eating habits.
If you’re concerned that your parents are not eating enough, there are things you can try. Before taking those steps, talk to their doctor. If it’s a side effect of their medications, prescription changes may be enough to help spark an appetite. Ill-fitting dentures or other oral problems can be corrected with proper dental care.
What do you do if that’s not enough to help? What are the best ways to get your parents to eat?
Try New Things
Introduce new foods from time to time and see what your parents think. They may never have enjoyed starfruit in the past, but they find the tart flavor is appealing now. You could also have them try a type of fish they’ve never had before.
Cook foods they used to like in different ways. They’ve always enjoyed fresh pineapple. Try putting cubes of fresh pineapple on a skewer with red peppers, onion, and zucchini and baste it in a teriyaki sauce. Serve that with couscous instead of rice and see what they think.
Add Extra Seasoning
To make flavors stand out, add extra seasonings to foods. You don’t have to use a lot of salt to make items taste appealing.
Marinate chicken thighs in a lot of fresh basil, garlic, black pepper, lemon, and olive oil. Remove the thighs to a baking dish. Boil the marinade and use that to baste the chicken while it bakes.
Stronger herbs like basil, garlic, dill, and oregano should be noticeable as your parents eat. You can sprinkle foods with fresh herbs for added flavor.
Serve Smaller Plates
Instead of serving three big meals, offer smaller plates more often. Turn breakfast into two or three smaller plates throughout the morning. Do the same with lunch and dinner. Aim to have heavier foods earlier in the day to avoid heartburn before bedtime.
You could start your parents off with toast and coffee when they get up. Later, offer them a fruit cup or yogurt and granola. For lunch, serve a small grain salad topped with grilled salmon. An hour after that, offer some sliced cheese, baguette, and roasted vegetables. Make a fruit smoothie an hour or two before dinner.
When dinner comes around, make it light. Offer some soba noodles with stir-fried vegetables. If your parents are hungry an hour later, they could have some whole wheat crackers topped with hummus.
Hire home care aides to help with the extra meals. You’ll still be able to keep up with your job duties, children’s needs, and errands while having home care aides prepare the next round of small plates. Call a home care agency to arrange meal preparation services.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Senior Care in Mullica Hill, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Attentive Care Inc. 1-800-493-5660
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