Seniors might be underweight because of medical or dental problems. At other times, the way foods taste or are prepared could be an issue. Being underweight is a concern because it could result in nutritional deficiencies and other health-related issues. If medical and dental problems have been ruled out, here are some healthy ways you may be able to help your senior loved one gain weight.
Change How Foods Are Seasoned
Aging adults sometimes lose weight because foods they normally like aren’t as flavorful as they once were, which is usually related to a decrease in taste bud sensitivity that naturally occurs with age. Your loved one may be more willing to eat more and get back to a healthy weight if you find creative ways to add more flavor to things he or she likes. Options include:
• Flavor-rich herbs and spices
• Citrus juice or honey
• Flavored and aged vinegars
A professional caregiver can help your loved one plan and prepare tasty, nutritious meals. Homecare professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
Limit Liquids Before & During Meals
Seniors with poor appetites may have difficulty gaining weight because they drink too much liquid before or during meals, which can make them feel full. Encourage your loved one to stick with small sips of healthy beverages throughout the day to stay hydrated. During meals, switching to smaller drinking glasses may help.
Shift to Frequent Smaller Meals
Older adults may be underweight because they’re simply overwhelmed by the portions typically served during the three standard meals of the day. Help your loved one gain weight if you suspect this is an issue by shifting to smaller, nutrient-rich meals served more frequently (e.g., 5–6 small meals per day instead of three larger ones).
Drink Healthy, Calorie-Rich Beverages
Underweight seniors may find it easier to gain weight if some of their calories and nutrients come from tasty drinks that can count as snacks or even meals in some cases. Smoothies and shakes containing fresh fruits or veggies are two tasty examples of drinks that can serve this purpose.
Purchase Meal Supplement Products
Meal supplements are loaded with beneficial nutrients and other ingredients that help with healthy weight gain. They’re meant to be used as supplements to meals, not as meal replacements. Some of these supplements are available as powders that can be mixed with water or milk, and others come in the form of solid bars. Just avoid products of this nature that have too much sugar.
Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
Aging adults may find it easier to gain weight if their meals include more nutrient-dense foods. Veggies may come to mind, but there are many other foods rich in nutrients that can also fit into your loved one’s diet. Some of these include:
• Citrus fruits
• Lean meats
• Unsalted nuts and seeds, which can also be sprinkled on salads for added flavor
• Low-fat dairy products
Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. Vancouver families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Get Regular Exercise
This may seem counterproductive, but regular exercise can build muscle mass and naturally increase appetite. Consult your loved one’s doctor to get specific recommendations for exercises likely to be safe. Even gentler forms of exercise like yoga and water-based activities can increase muscle mass and strength and have appetite-boosting effects.
Professional caregivers with training in nutrition and healthy habits can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement for seniors who need to gain weight. Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Vancouver Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (778) 279-3634.