Although providing an elder with a balanced, nourishing diet isn't too difficult, getting your loved one to actually eat the healthy foods you serve can be a real challenge. As people get older, their appetites often fade. Some of the many reasons seniors get hungry are teeth or swallowing problems, medication side effects, depression, pain, and the inability to taste certain things.
Caregivers who try to ensure their elders get proper nutrition can get frustrated when all they want are sugary, low-nutrient foods. It's also worthwhile to remember that seniors have different dietary requirements than younger people. Luckily, there are ways to come up with a healthy, tasty compromise.
While sweets are high in calories and fat, seniors might be able to eat them in moderation, because their fat reserves tend to shrink as they get older. If you're worried about your loved one's diet, ask their doctor or a registered dietitian for some help. If their sweet tooth isn't considered a serious issue (ex: it would be highly problematic for a senior with diabetes), let them eat what they like. It's especially true for seniors who are underweight or losing weight. However, don't expect a frail elder to gain a lot of weight. Their nutrition may be the only thing you can do.
Why Seniors Prefer Sweet Foods
Sugary food may not necessarily harm a senior's health, but it can be a sign of other problems that need to be dealt with. It's natural for your elder to choose a softer sweet, like a cupcake, over tougher, more nutritious foods, such as meat or broccoli, if he or she has trouble chewing, swallowing or digesting.
Make an appointment with their dentist to rule out oral health issues that are affecting their diet.
Tooth pain and ill-fitting dentures are both common reasons seniors change their diet. If they're having trouble swallowing and digesting, see their doctor. Changes in appetite and dietary preferences can be caused by anything, from advancing dementia to constipation.
Hiding Nutritious Ingredients in Food
The process of convincing a loved one to refrain from processed foods is sometimes challenging, regardless of the reasons why elders gravitate toward sweets. It is often a good idea to introduce nutritious ingredients to their diet gradually. Keep in mind that it is okay to be sneaky with nutrition. Several cookbooks are available on the market that explain how you can "hide" healthy ingredients in food, including desserts. There are many healthy desserts available for seniors, including banana ice cream, black bean brownies, and chocolate chip sweet potato cookies. Make a list of foods that your elder has enjoyed throughout his or her life and research ways in which you can adapt the recipes to include more nutrients from whole foods.
A smoothie is a perfect vehicle for hiding nutrition for picky eaters who enjoy sweets. Healthy smoothies contain both fruit and vegetables and do not require a formal recipe. It is possible to make homemade smoothies with a variety of nutrients, taste like a delicious dessert, and provide a significant amount of fat and calories. Additionally, they can be easily adjusted to meet the sweet tooth of senior citizens (see this recipe for a senior-friendly Shamrock Shake) and to meet specific dietary needs.
Try using primarily fruit for flavouring. Strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and mango are all popular, and frozen bananas can add potassium and a creamy texture to the dessert. You can add protein and healthy fats to your next creation by hiding ground flax seeds, nut butter or whole-fat Greek yogurt. For an added boost of nutrients, liquid multivitamins and protein powders can be added.
A smoothie can also contain leafy greens such as spinach and kale, but they can be bitter and affect the colour of the smoothie. When making a smoothie, you should balance these ingredients out with a sweeter fruit blend or a drizzle of honey. Adjusting the smoothie's thickness can be accomplished by adding ice cubes, water, milk, or orange juice. There are numerous smoothie books available on the market and recipes available online that can provide inspiration.
Let Seniors Indulge
It is perfectly fine for your loved one to enjoy desserts on a regular basis unless their physician has prescribed specific dietary restrictions due to diabetes or another chronic condition. Despite the fact that you are trying to improve their nutrition, it is important to offer them enjoyment in addition to calories. It is likely that our loved ones have suffered many losses over the years. Allowing them to enjoy their favourite foods can lead to improved emotional health.
"Improving the quality of life for our clients since 1998 while providing peace of mind to their families."
#ottawahomecare #dementiahomecare #caregiving #aging #caregiversupport #respite #seniorcare #gumdisease #oralhealthmonth #Hamilton #Hamiltonhomecare #Mississauga #Mississaugahomecare #elderlycare #seniorcare #homecare #elderly #healthcare #dementia #caregiver #memorycare #caregiving #seniorliving #homehealthcare #ottawa #health #caregivers #alzheimers #seniors #dementiacare #aging #retirement #homehealth #caregiversupport #nursinghome #independentliving #elderlycaregiving #dementiaawareness