Anyone who is looking after an elderly person, whether they are receiving home care services or being visited daily will tell you that one of the biggest challenges is getting them to eat their meals. It is a fact of life that as we get older the appetite can decrease significantly and this can lead to illness if we’re not careful.
When an older person is lucky enough to receive care at home they will likely have a healthy meal plan drawn up with nutritious, appetising meals cooked for them. But where a relative is doing the caring there could be personality clashes and the older person could push against what is being offered.
What Causes Loss of Appetite?
Everything changes as you get older and that includes your sense of taste and smell. Foods that you used to enjoy just don’t appeal anymore and in addition it becomes difficult to eat and digest large meals.
To stay healthy and fit in old age you just need to follow a few common sense rules and use good quality ingredients in high calorie meals which are easy to eat and digest. The diet should be varied with a good mix of lean protein, healthy fats and fruit and vegetables. Vitamins and mineralsare also essential and these have to be worked into meals to offset the natural lowering of absorption of them as we age.
Healthy Foods for Maintaining Weight and Wellbeing
Full fat dairy products such as full fat milk, cream, yoghurts and cheese are essential as these up the calorie count as well as providing protein, calcium and vitamin B12 for healthy bones and immune system.
Starchy foods like potatoes, rice and pasta, in moderation are filling and when combined with tomato sauces and topped with cheese offer a good all round balanced meal. Experiment with different sauces and toppings to maintain interest. Olive oil and pesto are high calorie ingredients that make a tasty addition to meals.
Try to include plenty of bread in the diet to provide filling calories. Sandwiches are often easier to eat and quicker to prepare.
Nut butters such as smooth peanut butter or almond butter can be used in different ways as these are easy to eat and filling. They are high in healthy fats which are beneficial for heart health and for lowering blood pressure. A peanut butter and banana combination helps to increase energy levels. Use butters in a bowl of porridge along with some dried raisins and apples.
Hearty soups are a very useful addition to a balanced diet as these can be bulked out with vegetables, rice, pasta and potatoes. To make a creamier soup add full fat coconut milk rather than cream for a change. Coconut milk is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support heart health as well as skin and hair.
Sources of protein, essential for tissue and muscle health, can be found in most meats plus fish like salmon, cod and other seafood. Options for vegans and vegetarians include soya products, beans, nuts and seeds.
Variety is Important
Variety and interest is what stimulates the appetite. Exercise and hydration are essential to keep up muscle strength and boost blood circulation.