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Signs your elderly parent is not eating right — or not eating at all

Most common signs of malnutrition and what a caregiver can do to help.

August 06, 2018

Signs your elderly parent is not eating right — or not eating at all

There are warning signs to watch for — and appropriate steps to take — when it comes to your loved one’s nutrition and health.

No matter the age, well-balanced nutrition is essential to a healthy life. As a person gets older, it’s common to eat less as metabolism slows. But there comes a point, especially with seniors, when eating less becomes not eating enough, which can lead to malnutrition.

As a caregiver — or even as a son or daughter — it can be difficult to know when to be concerned. There are a number of reasons why your elderly loved one might not be eating properly, from difficulty chewing with dentures to depression or loneliness.

The most important thing you can do is closely monitor the situation and take the appropriate steps once you’ve identified there is a problem.

How can you tell if your loved one is not eating enough?

Weight loss— If your loved one is losing weight, they are also losing fat, muscle mass and body tissue. Severe weight loss can have a dramatic physical effect as fat is drained from their body, from cheeks that appear hollow to eyes that seem sunken.

Medical tests — If you’re concerned about your loved one’s nutrition and health, a trip to the doctor to check their cholesterol, blood glucose, lipid profiles and blood pressure can put your thoughts at ease or confirm your fears. Either way, it will paint a clearer picture of their overall health.

Keep tabs on the food supply in their refrigerator and pantry — If you’re not already responsible for buying their groceries, keep an eye on what is in their refrigerator and pantry. If their food supply isn’t being consumed or replenished, there could be cause for concern.

Talk to their health care team — If your loved one has a doctor or a caregiver, it would be beneficial to consult with one, if not both of them to talk about your loved one’s nutrition and health.

What can you do to help?

Stock their food supply — Take the initiative to ensure that their cupboards are fully stocked with nutritious food options. You can’t force them to eat, but you can certainly do your part to make sure there is food available for when they want or need to eat.

Prepare meals for them — If you’re able to commit the time, feel free to go the extra mile and prepare meals for your loved one. Some seniors are unwilling or unable to cook their own meals, so having someone do that part for them can make a world of difference.

Hire a meal delivery service — Not everyone has the ability to prepare meals for their loved one on their own, and that’s okay. You have a lot going on in your life. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Hiring a meal delivery service to provide fully-prepared, refrigerated meals can give you peace of mind that your loved one’s nutritional needs are being met.

For Candi, Mom’s Meals® offered exactly that when her mother was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder, which caused her appetite to decrease.

“I constantly worried about her health, due to lack of nutrition,” she said. “Thanks to Mom’s Meals, I know my mother is eating at least one healthy and tasteful meal per day.”

Order meals today!