If your aging parent lives alone you may be worried they aren't eating enough. Because appetites can diminish with age eating less isn't necessarily a cause for concern and it can be a fine line to determine whether they're getting enough nutrition to stay healthy. Here are some signs to look for to make sure your elderly parent is eating enough, and what you can do to help if they're not.
Be a Snoop
When you visit your parent scope out the kitchen. Check the fridge and pantry for spoiled or outdate food, and look in the trash to see what they've had to eat in the past day or two. Ask them what they've eaten today and yesterday; go out for a meal and watch what they consume.
Bring them Food
Take your parent grocery shopping and pay attention not just to what they buy but also to when the items get consumed. When you cook at home make individual meals they can freeze and reheat, and buy their smaller portions that are easy and quick to prepare; the next time you visit check to see if the food has been consumed.
Make sure they are weighing themselves every week or so, and look for weight loss. Note whether their energy level stays the same, whether they are as hungry as often as usual, and if their appetite has declined.
Be a Detective
If you suspect your parent isn't getting enough to eat it's time to take action. First of all your parent should go for a checkup to determine if there's a physical reason for a decline in appetite. While there can be all kinds of reasons some common ones are:
- Side effects of medications
- Changing taste buds
- Mouth or tooth soreness or injury
- Lack of energy
Once you determine the cause of their not eating enough you can take proactive steps to remedy the situation. They may need to change medications, supplement their diet with a nutritional drink, or have their meals prepared for them in advance. The solution will depend on the cause but it's vital that you get to the root of the problem and follow through on the solution. By making sure your parent is eating enough you'll be taking a big step in keeping them strong and healthy for many more years to come.