Community Blog

How to Tell if Your Parent Isn’t Eating Well

By Marcie Silverman

Getting the proper nutrition is important at any stage of life. However, many older adults have difficulty meeting their nutritional needs for a variety of reasons. They may have trouble getting to the grocery store or preparing meals. They could be having oral health problems that make chewing difficult. Or, food just may not taste the way it once did. Sometimes it is hard to tell when an older adult isn’t getting enough nutrition. If you’re concerned about whether your aging relative is eating well, here are some things to look for.

Check Out Eating Habits

Have meals with your aging relative that are not connected to special occasions. Look at what they eat and how much. Find out who does the grocery shopping for them. Also, ask if they are having trouble getting to the store. Observe them cooking, too. If they have trouble, cooking may be getting too difficult for them to do on their own. This could cause them to choose easy foods rather than foods that are nutritious.

Watch for Unexplained Fatigue

Inadequate nutrition can cause iron levels to be lower than normal, which can cause anemia. Fatigue is a side effect of anemia. You may also notice that their skin is pale. It’s important to know that fatigue can be a symptom of many other conditions as well, so if you notice your aging relative seeming more tired than usual, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor about it.

Keep an Eye on Weight

If your family member is losing weight, it could be a sign that they aren’t eating enough. Ask them to weigh themselves regularly and keep track of their weight. You can also watch for changes in the way their clothes fit.

Look for Changes in Fingernails

A poor diet can cause changes to fingernails. They may develop ridges or become spoon-shaped. Changes to the nails are caused by a lack of iron.

Notice Changes in Mood

While mood changes may be signs of mental illness, they can also be indicators of poor nutrition. If your aging relative seems more irritable or is disinterested in regular activities, it could be a sign that their body isn’t receiving the nutrition it needs for energy.

Senior care providers can help older adults to eat a healthier diet. Senior care providers can take your loved one grocery shopping and assist them to make healthy choices. Senior care providers can also prepare meals and snacks that can be refrigerated and heated up at meal times or eaten right away. If your family member doesn’t eat well because they do not enjoy eating alone, a senior care provider can offer companionship while they eat.

Sources

https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/nutrition-aging-7-signs-inadequate-nutrition#1
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/senior-health/art-20044699

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS HOME CARE. OFFERING HOME CARE IN: ARLINGTON, FAIRFAX, AND LOUDOUN COUNTIES – ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, MCLEAN, FAIRFAX, VIENNA, OAKTON, RESTON, HERNDON, FALLS CHURCH, GREAT FALLS, STERLING, ASHBURN, AND LEESBURG. CALL TODAY: (703) 766-0154