Hard to Swallow: Older Adults & Eating Issues

Age changes many things about a person, including his or her appetite and eating habits. While a healthy diet is vital at any age, because of certain health issues and restrictions, many older people have trouble eating well. If you have an older loved one who is experiencing trouble maintaining a healthy diet, consider these tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help him or her overcome some common nutrition barriers.

Trouble Chewing:

For seniors who cannot chew food well, meats and fresh fruits and vegetables can be a problem. The FDA suggests the following substitutions:

  • Instead of fresh fruit, try fruit juice, apple sauce, or canned peaches and pears.
  • Instead of raw vegetables, try vegetable juices or mashed and cooked vegetables.
  • Instead of meat, try ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products.
  • Instead of sliced bread, try cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding and soft cookies.

Unable to Shop for Groceries:

Some seniors may have problems shopping for themselves due to being unable to drive or having ambulation issues. The FDA suggests:

  • Requesting a local store deliver groceries to the home.
  • Requesting volunteer shopping help from a local church, synagogue or volunteer center.
  • Asking a family member or neighbor to help with shopping.
  • Enlisting the help of a local home care agency, such as Heaven at Home.

Lack of Appetite:

Elderly people who live alone sometimes feel lonely at mealtimes, which can lead to a loss of appetite. They may also not feel up to making a meal just for themselves or the medication that they take might make food taste bad. For these issues, the FDA suggests:

  • Eating with family and friends.
  • Joining group meal programs offered through local senior citizens programs.
  • Talking to a doctor about whether or not medication might be a problem.
  • Contacting a local home care agency to have a companion prepare and participate in making meal time a social activity.

Ensuring older loved ones maintain a healthy diet and get the vitamins and minerals they need is extremely important. If your loved one is experiencing issues with his or her diet, contact Heaven at Home, experts in home health care Denton, TX families trust, to learn how in-home care can help seniors improve eating habits and lead a happier, healthier lifestyle.