Following the indulgence associated with the holiday season, many people elect to scale back on calorie consumption. But when an older adult does not want to eat altogether, or is making unbalanced or unhealthy dietary choices, it is important to determine the cause associated with this behavior, and to discover how to encourage them to get on track with healthier eating. If you’re wondering, “Why won’t my aging parent eat?” we’ve got some suggestions for you to investigate.
Changes in an Older Adult's Eating Routines
There are many key reasons an older adult may stop eating or start making unhealthy dietary choices – and strategies you can employ to help overcome them:
- Side effects from medications. Schedule an appointment with the physician for a full examination of all meds being taken, and find out if one or more may be contributing to a loss of appetite or troubling gastrointestinal side effects. See if the medication could be changed to a more tolerable alternative or if perhaps the dosage can be changed.
- Low vision. If the older adult struggles to see clearly, they could regard foods differently and lose interest in eating. Vision problems may also make it difficult and even dangerous to prepare meals or pick up groceries. Offer to help with shopping and meal prep (or learn how we can help!) and serve foods that are brightly colored and contrasted to the colors of serving dishes, place mats, the tablecloth, etc. so they’re more easily seen.
- Loneliness. This is a common problem among senior loved ones, and can make mealtime less enjoyable. Share meals whenever possible with a lonely senior loved one, invite friends and neighbors to join them, or contact Amy’s Helping Hands for a caregiving companion.
- Complications with oral health. Check with the dentist to determine if dentures need to be refitted or if perhaps there are any other dental concerns that should be addressed. You can also provide foods that are softer and/or cut them into smaller pieces. Lentils, ground meat, and beans, for example, are easier to chew than a pork chop or steak.
- Loss of smell or taste. Aging as a whole can result in a dulling of these senses, which may impact the satisfaction of eating. Try experimenting with more aromatic and flavorful spices and herbs while preparing meals, such as ginger, garlic, and thyme.
The Windsor, Ontario home care team at Amy’s Helping Hands is here for senior loved ones struggling to keep up a healthy diet, for whatever reason. We can partner with you to ensure all the bases are covered in providing older adults with every chance to once again enjoy meals and establish improved eating habits. Reach out to us at 519-915-4370 to discover how we can help withour award-winning in-home care services.