For caregivers, mealtime can feel akin to a battlefield. On one side, there is a delicious and healthful meal that will sustain an aging loved one. On the other side, there is a loved one that is just not interested in anything the meal has to offer! Despite the prodding and pleading, the senior will not eat the food.
For those caregivers who are currently stuck within the battle of elderly mealtime, the following provided by our friends at Expicare Nursing will explore some common strategies to get seniors to eat.
Employ a ‘utensil-free’ strategy
For some seniors, a major hurdle to mealtime lies in the utensil. Nothing turns a senior away from food more than the inability to grip and maneuver a utensil. Thus, it’s best for caregivers and home health aides to create a ‘utensil free’ meal plan. Focus on foods that can be eaten by hand such as chicken strips, thin cut vegetables, etc. By removing the barrier of forks and knives, you may empower your loved one to reclaim their appetite!
Not every senior is attuned to three giant meals a day. Some people just want to snack, and that’s okay! Sustenance is still sustenance, regardless of dinner time or snack time. The goal is to optimize nutrition whenever possible!
If your loved one prefers small snacks, meet them at their needs. Have healthful food prepped and ready to eat on hand. This could be pre-cut apple slices, sugar-free yogurt cups, or veggie sticks.
Get into a routine
One of the best ways to encourage mealtime for seniors is to have a set food schedule. This entails having meals at the same time throughout the week. For those seniors who are unaware of their hunger, a schedule will help develop a muscle memory of mealtime. By scheduling routine meals and snacks, you can create a scenario where a senior does not need to ‘feel hunger,’ but instead simply knows that it is time to eat.
Incorporate softer foods
For those entering their golden years, chewing can become something of a hindrance to mealtime. Crunchy vegetables and tough meats can hurt those with sensitive jaws and teeth. Thus, try to incorporate softer foods into mealtimes. This could be tofu, creamed vegetables, or even smoothies! The goal is to provide something that is flavorful and healthful that will not break your loved one’s teeth!