Believe it or not, malnutrition is in the top 10 issues senior citizens struggle with. As they age, they find it harder and harder to cook and have to rely on fast food and microwave meals to get by. Unfortunately, these types of meals are low in nutrition content and high in sodium and fat. They are highly processed and should only be eaten occasionally, not as an everyday thing. To add to the problem, as we age our ability to taste diminishes. The taste of sweet lingers the longest so you will notice that your loved one only wants sugary soda, candy, and cookies.
So you are concerned. You have a few options! If you have the time, you can meal-prep for your elderly loved one and set them up with three meals a day that they can microwave themselves and know they are getting nutritious food with vegetables and high-quality protein. For breakfast, cereal is ok! Get them something high in fiber and if they are struggling to keep weight on, whole milk.
To help fight the urge to only eat sweets, get them fruit. It’s not a chocolate chip cookie, but if you can get one piece of fruit in them a day instead of junk, that is a good thing.
They need to also stay hydrated. The elderly have less water in their bodies naturally, and medication can contribute to dehydration. If you can get them to drink an electrolyte drink, that is the best bang for the buck as far as hydration goes. But if not, water or juice will work as long as they will drink it. That’s the most important thing.
Additionally, get your elderly person some vitamins and explain to them the importance of taking it daily. You can also get them bottled shakes with vitamins and protein. This won’t fix all of their nutritional gaps, if they are struggling with it, but it will help shore up their basic needs until a longer-term plan can be figured out.
If meal prep is too daunting and maybe you lack cooking skills, NEILS can help. Home health care workers can prepare food in the home and make sure a good portion of it is being eaten. They can wash up afterward and do a little work around the house. They can be in the home daily, so they will be able to monitor how your elderly loved one is doing and alert you if they see something concerning, like a failing appetite or a refusal to eat.
Call us here at NEILS and we can work with you to solve this problem. We care, and we want to help.