There are many reasons that seniors may not be eating well. Taking a new approach to changing tastes may help.
Good nutrition is important at any age. But for caregivers and adult children, making sure the seniors in their lives eat the foods they need presents special challenges.
There are physical reasons why seniors don’t always eat as they should. Most people don’t realize that taste buds, like other body parts, change as we get older. As a result, foods that once tasted good may no longer be as appealing, and some old favorites may actually taste bad. Older adults’ salivary glands may not be as active due to prescription medications or oral hygiene. This combined with a slower metabolism may make it difficult to chew or digest certain foods. Sadly, there are some seniors who feel so depressed that they simply don’t want to eat.
A caregiver or adult child should consider these factors when creating meals for senior adults. Keep in mind that sometimes just changing the preparation of a particular food—for example, pureed vs. steamed vegetables—or the addition of a tasty sauce on a piece of chicken or fish can make it more appealing.
Just as nutritious foods should be integrated in a balanced diet, so should the mealtime rituals developed over the senior’s lifetime. Whether it’s saying a prayer before eating, enjoying a pre-dinner glass of wine, or watching the morning news while eating breakfast, we all take comfort in the familiar.
Here are some specific tips for good nutrition:
By realizing how the aging process affects the entire nutritional spectrum from taste to socialization, caregivers and adult children can help make mealtime both healthy and enjoyable.