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Caring for Parents, Keeping Them Healthy

(continued)

Eating and the Older Adult continued...

If Mom is passing up making the meals she once loved because "it's just one person," get her a small wok and a cooking-for-one cook-book. Schedule visits at mealtimes so she'll have an excuse to cook.

If asked, the grocer might break up packages to sell smaller quantities to your parent, like a half-dozen eggs, two potatoes, or just a few slices of bread (the grocer can use the rest of the loaf to make sandwiches).

Ultra-pasteurized milk that comes in cardboard cartons has a very long shelf life. Just make sure your parent chills it before drinking and refrigerates it after it's opened.

If your loved one takes a long time to eat, arrange for him to start his meal before everyone else.

Be especially patient at mealtimes; older adults often eat much more slowly than what you may be used to. Try to minimize distractions at mealtimes, and don't bring up stressful subjects.

"We usually have dinner with my grandmother on Sunday nights. It's nice, but sometimes she can go on autopilot, where instead of having a conversation, she just has a long monologue, a riff on everything. You can't get a word in edgewise. That can be frustrating, but as my father pointed out, she spends a lot of her week alone, bottling up thoughts and ideas, and so when she gets a chance to unload, she needs to let it all out."
-Ilene Klausner

A person who is easily confused might have an easier mealtime if you serve one course at a time and clear each one away before serving the next.

A solid-color tablecloth, as opposed to a patterned one, will minimize mealtime distractions.

Maybe your parent or grandparent just hates eating in the kitchen. Try moving to the dining room or even a space outdoors.

Don't ever wrap dentures in napkins, assuming you will retrieve them after the meal. Chances are they'll be thrown out.

Freeze small containers of your leftovers from home to share with your parent. Label them with the date and contents.

Freeze sauces, soups, and bouillon in ice cube trays so that individual servings can be popped out and heated.

Make sure that your parent or grandparent has access to lots of healthy, easy-to-eat snacks, such as berries, bagels, pitas, cheese, raisins, crackers, energy bars, or apple, melon, or orange slices.

If Mom's appetite is lagging, find out if she has a taste or yen for something special. Experiment with old recipes to make them more palatable and "legal" (use lactose-free milk, salt and sugar substitutes, ground meat instead of cubed, or yogurt instead of cream, but first consult a doctor about the interaction of these substitutes with any medications). There are tons of bookss on the subject and most have recipes. Consult them.

WebMD Medical Reference

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