Malnutrition is a condition that a shockingly high number of seniors suffer from. According to estimates as many as 60% of seniors could be malnourished. Malnourishment can happen when seniors don’t eat enough. But, it can also be caused by seniors eating poor quality food that doesn’t give them the vitamins and minerals that they need. Seniors can eat and still be malnourished. The quality of the food that seniors eat is just as important as the amount of food that they eat. In-home care providers can help seniors cook better quality meals, shop for healthy ingredients, and eat the right amount of food. In-home care is highly recommended for seniors living independently to ensure that they are getting enough healthy food to eat every day.
If you want to help your senior parent avoid malnutrition you should do these 10 things:
1. Talk To A Nutritionist Or Dietician
Make an appointment for your senior parent to see a nutritionist or a dietician. Someone who has education and experience working with seniors can explain to your senior parent the types of foods they need to eat, how to get more from the foods they are eating and give them tips for healthy eating.
2. Help Your Senior Parent Plan Meals
It’s a good idea for seniors to plan their meals so they can have in-home care providers help them prep for meals and shop for healthy meals. You can sit down with your senior parent once a week and talk about what healthy meals they want to eat that week. You may also want to have the grocery store flyer on hand as well to help plan meals based on what is in season and on sale at the store.
3. Buy Them Supplements
If your senior parent doesn’t want to eat enough food to stay healthy try supplementing their meals. Get them some high-quality protein shakes or protein bars, vitamins, smoothie packets, yogurt, or any other snacks and supplements they will eat.
4. Try Small Meals Frequently Instead Of Large Ones
As your senior parent gets older they may prefer to eat more frequent small meals instead of three large meals. Encourage them to eat four or five small meals throughout the day instead of three meals at set times to see if that works better for them.
5. Buy Nutrient-Dense Snacks
Provide nutrient-dense snacks that are easy to grab and enjoy between meals. This can include options like nuts, yogurt, fresh fruit, or vegetable sticks. Nutrient-rich snacks contribute to overall daily caloric and nutritional intake.
6. Prepare A Grazing Board
One of the hottest culinary trends is great for seniors. A grazing board is a fantastic way to encourage your senior parent to eat more. You or a care provider can prepare a board with cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables, fruit, and nuts in the morning and your senior parent can snack on it throughout the day instead of eating larger meals.
7. No Solo Dining
Seniors are more likely to eat a full meal when they’re not eating alone. Try dropping in for lunch or breakfast if you can’t make it to your senior parent’s for dinner. Or, have a care provider come by to help with meals and eat with your senior parent each day.
8. Schedule A Dental Cleaning And Checkup
One of the reasons why your senior parent may not be eating enough is because they are having dental problems. Schedule a dental cleaning for your senior parent and a checkup with the dentist. Make sure their dentures are fitting correctly if they have dentures. If they still have natural teeth make sure there are no cavities or problems that are making it difficult for your senior parent to eat.
9. Plant A Garden
A fun way to get your senior parent to eat more vegetables is to grow them. Seniors love gardening, and it’s a great activity for seniors. Seniors can grow fruits and vegetables in pots and planter boxes if they don’t have a large yard.
10. Have Regular Weigh-Ins
No one likes getting weighed, but the best way to keep track of a senior parent’s health is to have regular weigh-ins to make sure their weight is consistent. You can make it a game with prizes to make it more fun.