Don't you just wish that someone would tell you to consume more calories?! For most adults, the problem is just the opposite. For many seniors, however, maintaining proper caloric intake and nutrition is an issue. Recent statistics highlight this concern:
30% of seniors skip at least one meal per day.
16% consume fewer than 1,000 calories per day.
25% of seniors who live alone can not always get to the grocery store, resulting in inadequate supplies of staple foods.
Identify the warning signs and risk factors for poor nutritional health in your loved one:
Malnutrition and unintentional weight loss can put seniors at risk for infection, depression and ultimately, early death. Forty four (44%) percent of seniors who live alone display at least a few warning signs of poor nutritional health. Is your senior one of them?
Physical Signs. The most obvious signs of malnutrition are visible like weight loss, hair loss, bruising, weakness, persistent/recurrent infections, fatigue, depression and poor skin integrity.
Loss of Appetite. Why does your loved one turn down meals? Check out your parent's meds and consult with your pharmacist to determine if any could be altering the senses of taste and smell. Obviously, the urge or craving to eat will be impacted greatly by sensory distortion. Consumption of fluids can also affect appetite. "Filling-up" with beverages before a meal will obviously result in decreased appetite for food. Conversely, dehydration can also impair appetite and hamper body system functioning. Restricted diets due to certain health concerns like hypertension or diabetes can result in bland, boring meals. Consider using some mild spices and all purpose seasonings like "Mrs. Dash" to add flavor to otherwise simple meals.
Chewing or Swallowing Difficulties. Some medical conditions can result in swallowing problems and if observed, should be reported to the primary care physician. Chewing problems can be a result of poor-fitting dentures or other dental issues.
Smelly Refrigerators. Expired food items and poor sanitation in the frig can signal trouble for a senior's health. Routine inspections are essential to purge expired or spoiled foods. Try packaging foods in small containers labeled with date (large print).
Tight Budgets and Empty Cupboards. The rising cost of food coupled with a tough economy can make anyone lose their appetite. The added stress of existing on a fixed income can cause seniors to scrimp on necessities. It's a tough topic to tackle with a loved one but may be essential to ensuring proper nutrition.
Loneliness. Many seniors are without a spouse and must dine solo. Often, they consume unhealthy, convenience foods; lacking the energy or interest in cooking. The social aspect of meal time is taken for granted by most of us but is sorely missed by many seniors. Make an effort to include your loved one in as many family meals as possible. If you can't include them as often as you would like due to travel or busy schedules, encourage friends or neighbors to stop by with a meal to share. Consider hiring a companion caregiver from an in-home care agency to spend time with your senior loved one. Many companion caregivers enjoy cooking and will get your loved one involved in preparing and enjoying healthy meals. Contact Easy Living Services, Inc. to explore how a companion caregiver can assist your loved one, 770-442-8664.
Where do you turn when a love one needs more than you can manage? Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care services since 1994. Easy Living Services offers flexible care plans designed to provide companionship and personal attention. Call to discuss your specific needs, 770-442-8664 or visit us at: www.easylivingservices.com