Dealing with Loss of Appetite in an Aging Parent
Caring for your parent in their older age can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. Seeing their general health deteriorate is heartbreaking, not least when it seems to happen almost overnight.
One contributing factor to a sudden downturn in your loved one’s health can be their appetite. By not getting the essential nutrients their bodies need to thrive, seniors can quite quickly become weak and fragile.
Doctors suggest monitoring your loved one’s weight is vital in older age, as any loss of over 5% of their body weight over the course of 12 months is usually the sign of a more serious underlying problem.
Of course, it is important to remember some loss of appetite is natural in older age. The lining of our stomach loses its elasticity to contain as much food, and we tend to live more sedentary lifestyles, which means our calorie intake doesn’t need to be as high.
Finding that happy go-between, where seniors are comfortable with the amount they’re eating and still maintaining a healthy weight, is the job of Phil Davidson, owner of the in-home care provider, Always Best Care.
Over the years, Davidson and his team of caregivers have come up with a range of alternative methods to try to encourage seniors in home care in Rock Hill to eat more on a regular basis. He’s been kind enough to share those methods with us.
The body’s internal clock is a magical thing. If you can teach it to learn when you will usually eat your meals, it will respond by making the stomach send hunger signals to the brain at the appropriate times of the day.
If this approach is to work, especially in older age, a person cannot be allowed to binge and snack continually. Doing so will make it impossible for a senior to build enough of an appetitive for them to eat a whole, nutritious meal.
It’s a natural instinct for almost every living being on the planet to mimic the behavior of those around us – it’s how we learn from birth. This behavior is relevant to take into consideration at meal times, as being in the company of others who are eating is likely to encourage a senior to do the same.
Smaller portion sizes don’t necessarily have to mean that a senior’s body receives fewer nutrients. Re-thinking their diet to include more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and protein-rich foods can help to ensure that even just a couple of spoons of food can make a positive difference.