As you age, you may find that your appetite is not what it used to be, or you may have noticed this in an elderly loved one. It can be difficult to encourage your loved one to eat when this happens, yet it is necessary in order to keep in good health. Regardless of the individual reason(s) you or your loved one are experiencing a loss in appetite, we share with you some tips on what you can do in this scenario.
Adapt Food to Individual Needs
Does your loved one find it hard to eat food that needs to be chewed before swallowing? If so, you may consider replacing meals with soups, smoothies, or milkshakes that contain all the necessary nutrients. Some examples of this include hot cocoa, full-fat milk as well as soup that contains pureed meats and vegetables. You can also blend ingredients such as bananas, yogurt, and carrots into smoothies!
Have a Consistent Schedule for Mealtimes
Here is where you may want to observe what works and adapt your schedule accordingly. If you find that your loved one does better with five smaller meals throughout the day, do that instead of insisting on three regular meals. You may need to cut down portions, especially if the sight of a full plate that you just can’t finish turns you or your loved one off. You can ensure that you still get your daily dose of protein with finely chopped meats, eggs, soft cheeses, and olive oil.
Prepare Foods that Are Easy to Eat
Do you or your loved one find it hard to feed yourself? When that’s the case, preparing foods that are easy to pick up and eat can make a big difference. For instance, you may wish to prepare sandwiches, fish sticks, meatballs, and steamed vegetables instead of spaghetti for meals. Whether or not you choose to introduce adaptive utensils into your daily regime, these foods are easy to eat and will eliminate the frustration older adults can feel at not being able to use regular utensils.
Keep Snacks on Hand
Sometimes, you may find that your loved one does not feel hungry at mealtimes but desire a snack in between. It’s always helpful to keep snacks on hand in anticipation of these moments so that your aging parent can fulfill their needs at any time. Examples of snacks to stock up on include packets of cheese crackers, tubs of yogurt, diced fruit, peanut butter and crackers, and lots more!
Observe What Works
After introducing different types of food and routines to your daily schedule, you will have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. What’s most important is keeping track of the food your loved one likes and whether there’s a pattern to when they have a better appetite. From here, you will be able to better anticipate their needs and ensure they can receive a nutritionally balanced diet!