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Making Sure Your Elder Parent Eats Well

written by Guest Blogger March 14, 2014

If you’re a regular Live Lighter reader, you’ll know that over the holidays my Mom was hospitalized. Part of the reason for this was that she wasn’t eating right — which is absolutely essential when you have diabetes and when you are elderly. So I’m very happy to present today’s guest post by blogger, Kimberley Laws!   

“Finish your broccoli or there will be no dessert.” You remember your mom uttering those words so clearly that it feels like it was only yesterday. It was, however, decades ago. And, now, the roles have reversed. It’s your turn to make sure that your mom is eating right–and you have no idea what to do.

 

If you worry that your aging parent isn’t eating properly and bribing them with desserts is proving ineffective, here are a few tips that may help.

1. Remember that more isn’t always better

Resist the temptation to load up your mom’s plate. While watching her engulf a monstrous dish of food may make you feel better, it may not increase her nutritional intake at all. A “Kid’s Meal-sized” helping packed full of nutrient-dense foods is better.

By adding some foods rich in healthy fats, proteins, and vitamins–like avocado, peanut butter, legumes, or seeds–you can add extra calories without adding bulk.

2. Eating is social

When you were a kid, you likely sat down to meals with your family. After all, mealtimes provided the perfect chance to interact with one another. And the need for social contact never goes away–no matter how old you get. Perhaps, your mom’s appetite has decreased because she doesn’t enjoy eating alone.

Including your mom in family meals is a great way to whet her appetite. You may also want to check out your local senior center or church to see if they have any regular food-related social gatherings. And, don’t forget to change things up a bit by taking her to a restaurant for dinner or having lunch in a park.

3. Her taste buds are tired

Some changes that occur as we age are obvious. We suddenly require eye glasses, a hearing aid, or a cane. But our taste buds also grow weary, diminishing our ability to taste what we eat. And, let’s be honest. Food with no taste would lose its appeal pretty darn quickly.

In order to keep your mom interested in food, you may need to enhance its flavor. Some suggestions include adding garlic or other herbs and spices–providing they don’t have gastro-intestinal problems that will be aggravated. Marinating meats, adding dressings when possible, and experimenting with textures can also put the joy back in eating.

4. Welcome “snack attacks”

Yes, your mother used to tell you not to snack between meals, lest you spoil your appetite for supper. This rule, however, does not apply to your aging mom. Healthy snacking on nutrient-dense foods is a great way to supplement her diet–particularly if they contain calcium, folate, or Vitamin B12. In fact, your mom may find it much easier to eat many miniature meals scattered throughout the day than three more sizeable ones.

5. Make it simple

Your mom’s energy levels aren’t what they used to be. She likely doesn’t have the energy to prepare some of her favorite dishes–and, if she is on her own, she may lack the motivation too.

Ensure that she has a well-stocked pantry filled with easy and quick options. Take her to the grocery store regularly to stock up. This way you can also help her make healthier selections. Some grocery stores will even deliver. You can pre-mix her some smoothies for a snack or prepare some meals for her to keep in her freezer. And, don’t forget to make sure she has some meal replacement shakes on hand too.

Your mom may not eat her broccoli–and, if you are completely honest, much of your childhood greenery went to the family dog. But, with a little help from her loved ones, she can maintain a healthy diet. And, for Heaven’s sake, let the woman have her dessert.

How do you ensure that your aging parent eats right?

About the Author

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger for Media Shower. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Image courtesy of photos.com.

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