Experts estimate that 9 percent of elderly adults, nearly 6 million seniors, live with chronic food insecurity. Even more deal with other forms of inadequate nutrition or problems related to not eating the balanced diet that their body needs to thrive. As a family caregiver it is important that you recognize the challenges that your senior might have and help them to overcome them so that they can get proper nutrition and maintain their highest quality of life as they age in place. This starts with understanding why your aging parent might not be getting enough nutrition on a regular basis.
Some of the most common reasons that elderly adults do not get enough nutrition include:
- Dental problems. Seniors who suffer from dental pain, loose teeth, dry mouth, or other dental issues might struggle to eat the healthy foods that they need. They might not be able to comfortable eat hard or crunchy foods, or foods with major temperature differences.
- Taste problems. Much of what compels a person to eat is the pleasure that they get from the flavor of the food. If your senior is dealing with an issue that compromises their ability to taste, such as issues with their taste buds, problems with their sense of smell, or taking certain medications, they might lose their interest in eating.
- Depression. It is common for people who are dealing with depression to lose their appetite or not feel motivated to eat, and that is no different for elderly adults.
- Loneliness. Similarly, if your aging parent lives alone and does not have companionship during mealtimes, they might not find as much enjoyment in it and no longer feel compelled to prepare and eat full meals. This can cause them to reach for unhealthy convenience options or not eat at all.
- Dementia. A senior who is dealing with dementia might not remember why they need to eat, might think that they have already eaten, or not know what they are supposed to eat to stay healthy. They might also not be able to go through the process of preparing meals and snacks on their own, and may eventually lose their ability to eat independently.
- Mobility and other physical problems. Cooking might be something that you take for granted, but for an elderly adult who is struggling with mobility issues, arthritis, balance problems, and other physical issues, it might be too difficult. If an elderly adult is not able to cook as they once did, they might not be able to prepare balanced, healthy meals and snacks for themselves. This limits their eating to those things that require little to no preparation, or delivered meals.
If you are concerned about your aging parent’s nutrition and feel that they would benefit from additional care and support to make sure they get what their body needs, starting senior care for them might be the ideal solution. Because the signs and symptoms of senior hunger can be subtle, it can be easy for you as a family caregiver to miss them, especially if you care for your parent from a distance or are a multigenerational caregiver and are not able to spend as much time with your parent as you would like to. A senior home care services provider can be with your aging loved one on a schedule that is customized to their specific needs. This means that they are available to recognize the challenges that they have that might prevent them from getting the nutrition that they need and offer support and encouragement to overcome these issues on a regular basis. They can also help your loved one to understand what their doctor has said about their nutritional needs and what keeps them from getting what they need, then encourage them to make the lifestyle choices that will keep them at their best. This can give you tremendous peace of mind knowing that your elderly parent is getting everything that they need to keep their body healthy and strong, and that they have support and encouragement to handle the challenges that arise as they age in place.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Skokie, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.