Getting the Elderly to Enjoy Food
As we age our enjoyment of food can change. Unfortunately many elderly people find this a problem. Illness and modern changes to the things we eat all affect how our appetites change. This can have more of an effect on elderly people.
A massive part of how we enjoy our dinners are down to physical changes to our body. If mobility is poor due to a stroke or diseases such as Parkinson's, it can put many elderly people off cooking for themselves. The inability to do such things may upset them, and make them not care about what foods they eat, instead resorting to easy foods such as yoghurts or cold pastas. This can quickly lead to malnourishment.
It is worth suggesting to them if they would like to try a service able to deliver frozen meals on wheels. This way, they can enjoy a hearty meal prepared by others that they can simply re-heat and then enjoy, without the worrying dangers such as burning themselves or struggling with an oven. The feeling of vulnerability may cause them to worry about asking for help in the kitchen, or maybe going out for dinner, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear of going out.
Loss of smell and taste can make certain foods less appealing, possibly causing the aged to skip meals. This must be avoided as older people need more proteins and vitamins to maintain good tissue structure, brain function and bone quality. It is good to encourage them to try new flavours and experiment with different types of seasoning to reawaken the senses and making new food enjoyable to experience. Try flavouring foods with mint or lemon juice as these are strong flavours that get the tongue working at its best.
An obvious downside to ageing is losing your teeth. So, tough, hard to chew foods are out. A soft food diet does not need to be boring or bland at all. Many foods can be boiled for a little extra time to soften it or maybe try to blend or pulse certain foods to keep their flavour but making them easier to swallow. Same goes to people suffering such conditions such as dysphagia. Get any poorly fitted dentures adjusted to avoid mouth sores and help get tougher foods enjoyable again.
Try to use a colour chart when preparing meals for the elderly. A dinner should contain three distinct food colours, not just for visual enjoyment but this can help nutritional value to. Remember if a person has suffered a form of visual loss and can only see bright contrasting colours or can only see from a small proportion of their eyes seeing plain food on a white plate can be tough. Bright foods (such as carrots, peppers or tomatoes) can be easier to see on a plate.
With a few simple adjustments to the way an elderly person eats or sees food they can start to enjoy meal times again, leading to a happier life.
This article was written by Hazel, who has worked in care for over 7 years, and is now a full time mother and content writer. This article was written alongside Oakhouse Foods, who provide healthy, frozen meals on wheels services, as well as daily, fresh grocery deliveries to your door.