Eating well and regularly can be a problem for the elderly. Older people often lose interest in food, and many over-75s (one in five, according to our own research) struggle to cook their own meals. Weight loss is NOT a natural result of ageing; if you know an elderly person who's losing weight, they're probably not eating properly.
But it doesn't have to be that way. With a bit of imaginative help from their families, older people can still enjoy a good and tasty diet.
So here are our top tips for encouraging elderly eaters to enjoy their food:
Make food and mealtimes interesting activities. Encourage elderly eaters to get involved in the choosing, preparing, and serving of food. A shared activity is more fun, plus the aromas released by chopping and cooking will stimulate their appetites.
- Have a plan for the week. Help elderly eaters plan their meals for the week ahead, then turn the plan into a shopping list.
- The right atmosphere. Create a dining area that's comfortable and inviting. Remove distractions.
- Smaller portions, more often. If someone's lost their appetite, try serving smaller portions more often. That could work better than three big meals a day. For those who don't fancy traditional meals, offer finger foods.
- Healthy snacks within reach. It's easy to slip into snacking when people are on their own, so give them plenty of healthy snacks to dip into. Make their food and drink easily accessible.
- Avoid low-cal and low-fat. Those who don't eat well need all the calories they can get. Avoid calorie-free or low-fat products – unless their GP's told them to cut back.
- Create a routine. A routine helps to make mealtimes part of the daily round. Loneliness can mean that an elderly person cant see the point.
- Gentle persuasion works better than speed and coercion. Take time to make each meal a success
Help when you need it most
Caring for an elderly relative can be stressful. If you need a helping hand or a bit of respite time, we're here to help with household chores, meal preparation, shopping, errands and with a meal diary/ shopping planner & especially - a friendly face at mealtimes.
(PS the top image is a gluten free scone recipe which one of our team developed to meet a client's needs. Delicious! - ask if you want a copy!)
#EatWell #GlutenFree #LoveToCare