The Importance of Eating WellMost people have less appetite and eat less as they age. They are less active and need fewer daily calories to maintain normal weight. Sadly, many older adults don't meet their daily caloric needs, which results in weight loss. Physical changes that take place as people age can lead to decreased food intake as well.
Here are other age-related changes that affect nutrition:
- Loss of awareness of thirst
- Dry mouth
- Problems with teeth and gums and loss of muscle mass in jaws and throat cause difficulties with chewing and swallowing
I recently did a couple of presentations as part of a conference for caregivers. I spoke about the importance of good nutrition and challenges that caregivers may incur when caring for older adults. Here are some tips to help caregivers encourage older adults to eat healthy.
} Make soups and chunky stews.
} Use specially designed kitchen tools and utensils.
} Serve smoothies for breakfast.
} Soft and easily chewable foods include mashed sweet potatoes, cooked pasta, canned fruits, scrambled eggs, pudding, yogurt, and cheese.
} Offer high calorie snacks for care recipients who need to gain weight
} Make lunch the “big” meal of the day.
} Eat small meals often.
} Offer fluids so care recipient stays hydrated.
} Invite family and friends to eat with care recipient.
} Serve colorful foods.
} Eating out can be a pleasant change for care recipient.
} If possible encourage care recipient to help with meal and snack preparation