For all of us, widely available good advice on maintaining a healthy and varied diet rings true. This advice is equally valid for our older people as well. However, for some, following this advice has its challenges. As we get older, the physical triggers that make us want to eat change. With our changing metabolism and other factors such as medication regimes and our own psychological state, our eating habits will alter.
Encouraging our older relatives to continue to enjoy mealtimes can therefore be a real challenge. There are though some useful things to consider in making mealtimes more enjoyable.
Our senses of smell and sight inform us in advance that the plate of food we are about to eat will be a good one. In many older people, these senses start to diminish so we can try to make the meals attractive looking on the plate by ensuring there is plenty of colour in the components of the meal and the individual elements of the dish are easily identifiable.
Look to reduce the size of the portion. Sometimes, when your appetite is not so good, the prospect of a large meal can be quite daunting. There is always the option of second helpings.
Also, think about other factors that might affect someone’s appetite. Sore teeth or a sore mouth caused by dentures that don’t fit as well as they once did will quickly reduce the enjoyment of eating a meal.
Cut food up into smaller pieces, especially fruit. A few slices of apple or segments of an orange are far more appealing than a whole one. Also, look at amending the eating routine slightly. Sometimes 4 or 5 snacks throughout the day is a far more appealing prospect than 3 main meals.
Finally, there is a wealth of advice and assistance available to help make mealtimes more enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Philip Keohane from Home Instead in Reading is a regular contributor to Xn Magazine