It’s natural to experience a decrease in appetite as we age, but it’s very important that older adults eat a balanced diet and receive adequate nutrients every day. Certain medical conditions, medications and mobility issues can also interfere with seniors’ appetites. It’s essential to be able to recognize the signs of undernutrition, especially if your senior loved one lives alone and you’re not able to be with them for every meal.
Here are several signs of undernutrition in seniors, and how you can address them:
- You never see any dirty dishes in the sink. Try to visit around standard mealtimes or just after mealtimes, and take notice if there are ever any dirty dishes in the sink, freshly-washed dishes on the drying rack, or if the dishwasher is running. If your loved one’s kitchen is absent of recently-used dishes, gently ask them if you can fix them a meal or a snack, and inquire about the last time they ate.
- The fridge and the cabinets are nearly empty. While we all love to dine out from time to time, even the least talented chefs have some basic ingredients in the fridge and in the cabinets. Take a peek around your loved one’s kitchen and ensure they are decently stocked with enough basic ingredients to make at least a week’s worth of meals.
- The fridge and the cabinets often contain expired items. We’ve all left a bag of spinach in the fridge past the expiration date, but our kitchen should not be filled with expired food items constantly. Check your loved one’s fridge to be sure its contents are fresh and good to use. If not, perhaps suggest you go grocery shopping together to be sure they’re buying ingredients they like and can prepare easily.
- They have dentures but don’t wear them regularly. Most people with dentures keep them in all day and only remove them before sleeping. With that said, if you notice your loved one isn’t wearing them during the day time when you visit, it could be because they haven’t eaten all day. We recommend asking if their dentures fit properly, and offer to accompany them to the dentist if necessary.
Proper nutrition in assisted living
At Bristol Glen, our Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), we monitor our residents’ meals and ensure they receive all the nutrients they need on a daily basis. Unlike the outdated stereotype where mealtimes are strict, at Bristol Glen we allow our residents to set their own schedules and eat whenever it makes sense to them. We also have trained associates onsite who tend to any special nutritional needs, dietary requirements, or food intolerances.
For more information about Bristol Glen, or if you have any questions about CCRCs, please contact our UMC team today. Discover why so many people in Sussex County New Jersey choose us as their trusted assisted living community.