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Caring for Parents, Keeping Them Healthy

(continued)

Eating and the Older Adult continued...

Soft and pureed foods don't have to be bland and tasteless. Find out which herbs and spices make an otherwise bland dish interesting. You might also serve the following in colorful combinations:

  • cereal
  • puddings and gelatin
  • cooked and creamed vegetables
  • cheese
  • soups and stews
  • egg salad and tuna and other fish salads
  • tabouli, baba ganoush, and hummus
  • cooked fish
  • sushi
  • pasta
  • stewed fruit
  • egg rolls, cut up
  • chicken nuggets
  • scrambled eggs and omelettes
  • pancakes and French toast
  • rice and risotto
  • yogurt
  • meat loaf

Baby food is great if you need to get a meal together in a hurry. The fruit selections are delicious!

Get a copy of The Non-Chew Cookbook, by Randy J. Wilson.

No one likes to eat alone. If Mom insists that you partake of her bland, pureed diet, consider bringing along your own snacks at mealtime.

Too many items on the table can be confusing. Keep condiments to a minimum.

"My mother hated dinnertime and often refused to settle down for it. So we started a routine of getting a little dressed up for dinner each night -- she wears a nice brooch and one of her many scarves, and she likes to carry a purse -- and now she looks forward to what's become her favorite part of our day."
-Michaela Kevis

Freely make use of microwaveable prepackaged foods. You can stock up on them and put them in the freezer after marking each with the day of the week when it should be eaten.

If your loved one can't swallow thin liquids, someone has probably recommended Thick-It, a tasteless powder that thickens hot and cold liquids. The canister is bulky, so keep small supplies of Thick-It in your bag to use on outings. If Dad's not supposed to drink unthickened liquid, don't cheat, not even "just this once."

Older adults should always eat sitting up.

Take your parent to lunch, even if you're at work. Call at lunchtime, and you can eat together -- you at the desk, she at home in the kitchen. But remember that it's dangerous for an older person (or anyone else) to talk while chewing.

Your parent's peak period of digestion (when it's easiest to digest food) is midday. Plan the large meal for that time of day, and keep supper light.

When feeding your father, only put one teaspoon of food in his mouth at once. Alternate spoonfuls of solids and liquids.

Plan your mother's weekly menu ahead of time so shopping for all meals can be done at once. Copy her recipes onto cards and write the shopping list for each dish on the backs. Take the cards with you when you go shopping.

Older adults who seem to have endless appetites often forget they have just eaten. Put stickers on the clock for mealtimes so they can see how long it is until the next meal. Making small nutritious snacks available throughout the day is also helpful.

WebMD Medical Reference

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