One of the common problems that family caregivers encounter with older adults is getting them to eat. There are many reasons a senior might not eat enough or may refuse to eat altogether. While it can help to determine the reason the senior isn’t eating, sometimes the reason isn’t easily fixable. Instead, it’s necessary to just find ways to deal with the behavior and get the older adult to eat more.
Below are 4 ideas to get your aging relative to eat more.
#1: Keep to a Schedule
Sticking to scheduled times for eating meals and snacks can make a difference because it can signal the older adult’s body to eat at those times. Younger adults can generally rely on feeling hungry to tell them when it’s time to eat. However, feelings of hunger tend to decline with age, so they are not a reliable way to decide when the senior should eat.
Elder care providers can help to maintain the senior’s schedule by preparing meals and snacks for them at the usual times.
#2: Make Nutritious Foods Easy to Eat
Because the older adult is eating less, it’s important to make everything they do eat as nutritious as possible. One way to do that is to make certain there are nutritious foods on hand that the older adult can just grab and eat when they do feel hungry. Try keeping cut up fruits and vegetables in snack sized baggies in the senior’s refrigerator. Nuts are a good snack, too, since they are a great source of fiber.
An elder care provider can prepare nutritious snacks for your older family member, so they can always have something good to eat on hand.
#3: Serve Finger Foods
Eating utensils can be difficult for some older adults to use. Their hands may lack the grip or mobility to use a fork or spoon. If that’s the case, try serving foods that don’t require utensils. Some examples are, cubes of cheese, chicken strips or nuggets, sandwiches, and steamed vegetables.
Elder care providers can cook all kinds of foods, including foods that are easy and fun to eat. However, if the senior needs more help eating, an elder care provider can assist them to eat by feeding them or holding their hand steady while they eat.
#4: Offer Companionship During Meals
Some older adults avoid eating because eating alone makes them feel lonely. If you suspect that’s the case for your older family member, find ways to offer them some companionship while they eat. Stop by at mealtimes whenever possible, invite the older adult to your house to eat, or set up lunch dates for the senior with their friends.
Elder care providers can also provide your loved one with companionship while they eat. An elder care provider can sit down with a cup of coffee or glass of water while the senior is eating, chatting to make the meal more enjoyable, which may encourage the senior to eat more.