Seniors Can Eat Well and Enjoy It!

by francy Dickinson   🙂 I am working on my website and will have it updated and ready soon…thanks  

Dear Francy; I am giving up, mom will not eat a thing. I have tried food from every place in town plus my own dinners. She nearly drinks energy drinks. She wants to eat, but she is so picky and says her taste buds have left her. What on earth do I do to get her back to eating again?

I know how hard this is, fighting medications, dementia, weakness, upset stomachs…the list goes on and on when you have a senior not eating. But we have to just remember a few rules of the care givers trade and you will find it change for the best. I have added a great French Toast for the Most recipe in the end of the rules. It is always a go to food for me when I am dealing with someone who is beyond eating.  Now remember…eating is all of a person not just food. So, read this and take from it what you feel you can use…good luck!

CARE GIVER RULES FOR SENIORS EATING WELL:

  1. As you age and take medications your taste buds start to diminish and it’s very hard to enjoy eating. This added to not feeling well brings out the “I am not hungry”, or” That does not look good to me.” Start with telling the doctor that the senior is not eating well at all. He will do a couple of things: he will give you a medication that can increase hunger, or have you take one of the pills that are already on the senior’s list at a different time of day. He will ask a nutrition person to meet with you and review the diet and see if little tweaks can help add protein. Finally he will professionally tell the patient they “have” to eat. Sometimes a doctor’s word is stronger than family or caregivers.
  2. Next buy protein powder and supplement drinks. You can add the protein power to different things, like soups, gravy, milk for cereal, etc. The supplement drinks are for a meal or supplement to low food intake. I always try vanilla and add a flavor to them. The chocolate is good…but remember when they are the meal, using them cold is what makes their taste pop. Keep drinks in fridge and then shake them before you serve in a chilled glass.
  3. Make smoothies for mornings. Everyone has to take pills and will drink in the morning. Using a yogurt, and protein powder with milk or a supplement drink and whipping it up in blender (always with one ice cube) will give it foamy drink that tastes good and will really add protein and sugar to the senior’s morning. I always top the drink with a little nutmeg, it gives it a good taste and smell. If you have fresh or frozen fruit, go for it!
  4. Dont forget egg nog…I am personally on a low carb diet and I have enjoyed my morning drink. I use vanilla protein power with milk (or vanilla supplement drink) a packet of sugar substitute, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/3 tsp nutmeg, an ice cube, one full raw egg, and mix in blender until its fluffy. This is a yummy way to add extra protein it tastes fresh and goes down easy. It really works to fill me up for the morning and I know a senior would find it satisfying too.
  5. Add spices. To bump the taste buds you need to add spices a little more aggressively. I love using the low salt mix like Mrs Dash and adding low sodium salt so you can use it without side effects. Sprinkle everything… you use spices as you cook so they are absorbed in the food and then top the food with a lite hand so the smell and the taste pops.
  6. Smell goes in elders too…so be sure to serve food hot or cold, they give out more smells than room temp or warm food. Get a microwave plate cover and use it to transport the food on the tray to the senior to keep it hot.
  7. Get in habits. Seniors like habits. So you have eggs & bacon or sausage type of meal twice a week, protein smoothie and toast 3 times a week, a good pancake or waffle on weekends and then one day is cereal. Make the plan out for the week and stick to it…so the senior gets good food sprinkled with different tastes and knows what to look forward to each day.
  8. Rules, the rules have to be set for seniors that are not eating or eating unwise things. They simply have to eat 1 meal a day and drink 2 protein drinks to keep alive. I sat down with mom and told her that her small strokes were not going to go away, so keeping her body strong was her only hope for a comforting life. It’s so easy to think; “I will stop eating and pass away.”  In reality it usually means you stop eating and your meds don’t work and you wind up in the hospital and/or a lonely high-care nursing facility. If they want to stay at home, or with family…they have to think of eating as their work each day. When they look at it like a duty and a responsibility you will get less stressful complaining.  
  9. Food is not just food, if it was you would never pay hundreds of dollars for a dinner at your local best restaurant. So buy a tray that is light and functional for you to bring food to the senior. Buy a few new dish towels that look bright and fun and use them to line the tray. Use a smaller plate (yes buy one) so it looks like their food is big and their eating is full. Have good utensils, if senior has a problem with holding forks or spoons, buy some that are specially designed for that purpose you find them in the medical supply place, or in a medical catalog online. Have a smaller glass for the juice, it will look better to give a 1/2 cup in a small glass instead of a 1/2 cup in a big glass. Make the tray cheery and the plate well done, just like you get when you go out to eat. This is the presentation that makes a difference…they will see the food “looking good” and want to eat it more than just a plate shoved in front of them.
  10. Keep salt and pepper by their chair so they can always add a bit, if the taste is to bland. Give them a napkin a real napkin in a ring holder for their meals. It is more sturdy for drips and more enjoyable to feel special instead of a paper napkin or paper towel. It’s all about feeling, seeing and smelling with food. So make it your job to think about how to change the presentation for the better. Your standards of feeding will set the meal for more success and don’t lower them. A simple sandwich can have a sliced pickle or small tomatoes on the plate. You can make a difference by just being creative as you give your daily care.
  11. Serve with a smile. Oh how I remember an afternoon that a dear girl friend came to take me to lunch when I was giving 24/7 care to my mother. My sister stayed with mom and I got to “go out”. We went to a local diner and had a simple hamburger meal. The waitress was in a mood and slow and when my food arrived she slid the plate on the table to me and it went into my lap. I was in tears. I know, I over reacted…but you see I had given so much to mom that this lunch was my time to have someone care for me and she just pushed the meal at me. It hurt my feelings and I left without paying or eating. I took that experience in and made sure that no matter how personally tired or upset I was, I did not show it when I fed my mother. I arrived with a tray and a smile. I served the food and talked about something light and left her alone to eat it. I gathered the tray and did not allow myself to be upset if she did not eat one or more of the things I had fixed. Attitude of cheer and happiness and talking about good things and leaving the TV on something light and easy to watch while the senior is eating….it all goes together in a package.
  12. When you have children you learn to stick veggies into anything so the child gets good stuff to eat. Well that is what you do for a senior. If you have spaghetti then you put shredded zucchini in the sauce and no one will know. You put protein mix in the gravy. You take the bologna out of the package and put it into the processor with protein powder, mustard, pickle relish and mayo and let the blades bring it down to a simple chopped meat spread for a great sandwich treat with lettuce or sprouts. Be creative and smart…give the senior good food, with little packages of surprise goodies inside.
  13. Talking, just let the senior know you are doing your best and you are tired and need their help. You need them to try as hard as they can to eat at least a few bites of the things you bring to them. If they can not finish it, fine, but they need to think of eating as a job and do the very best they can so you can all enjoy life together. You are apart of a health team, you and the senior have to work together to make days filled with good food, exercise and happy thoughts. It can be a challenge, but it is how life is lived to the best each day. I know you can do it, just keep trying and understand that your energy to make them eat good food, has to be matched by their willingness to continue their care with you in their life. If they can not help you, then a change is going to be made. That honesty about your rules of the home and your care giving- given in calm moments not anger….is what has to be done so the senior knows good health can come from good nutrition.

FRENCH TOAST WITH THE MOST

My husband loves French Toast so I do it once a week and I give him much more than what it looks like on the plate. So gather in the ingredients and put this recipe together so the senior gets even more than they know from eating it.

3 Eggs   – 1/4 cup of milk with a scoop of protein powder or use vanilla supplement drink  – 1/2 tsp vanilla – 1/4 tsp cinnamon –
1/2 tsp sugar or 1/2 packet of sugar substitute – 2 slices of good sandwich bread

Mix the egg ingredients in the blender until they are foamy and pour into a pie dish. Prepare a large skillet/grill with spray oil and heat to medium. Have the egg mixture close to the pan and use a good pancake flipper to dunk the bread into the egg mixture. Get both sides of the bread good and moist and then transfer to medium hot pan for browning. Turn the two slices of bread over and when both sides are lightly browned – dunk the bread back into the egg mixture and re-coat. Then put back into the skillet or grill and continue cooking. Repeat this until the egg mixture is all used up and the two pieces of bread are well coated with layers of now cooked eggs. Lower the heat and cover the bread for a minute to puff up slightly.

Serve on plate with a fresh fruit topping, syrup and always sprinkle with a light dusting of powdered sugar for a festive appeal. If you have some whip cream in a can use it, just like in a breakfast diner, make it look as good as it tastes. This is such a yummy meal and it is loaded with extra good things and means that even if they eat one piece they have loads of protein. If your senior loves bacon, use it on the side and if they love a special fruit just buy frozen in the winter.

Hope all of this helps, it has always been successful for me. My seniors always respond in a positive way to my cooking. If you are not a cook…then take time to buy a simple Betty Crocker cookbook and use it as your guide. Don’t be embarrassed to make your skills improve in order to help the senior and your family eat more and eat healthy. Blessings, francy

Join me on twitter @seniorcaretips
Enjoy my other recipes: http://joyfilledcooking.familyoven.com/

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