Houston-area grocery stores have become more senior friendly in recent years, but shopping is only one hurdle that Mom or Dad may have to overcome when it comes to meals.
Senior adults living alone may exhibit at least four warning signs of being at risk for poor nutritional health. Examples of nutritional risk factors include eating alone or taking multiple medications that may affect appetite or other aspects of eating. Could your Mom or Dad be vulnerable to nutritional risk factors?
A top ten list of warning indicators, as compiled by research by Home Instead Senior Care Network and the National Association of Area Agencies is noted below:
- Loneliness. More than 75 percent of seniors who live alone eat alone most of the time, according to Home Instead Senior Care research. Families can help by providing companionship in the home or obtaining information about neighborhood congregate meal sites for seniors.
- Multiple medications. Almost 75 percent of seniors take three or more medications daily. Consult with your senior’s health care professionals to determine if medications may impact your senior’s appetite and discuss possible solutions.
- Lack of healthy kitchen staples. Sound nutritional staples are not always found in a senior’s kitchen. Almost half of seniors who live alone consume few fruits, vegetables or dairy products. Look for local farmer’s markets as possible outings and consider recreating favorite family recipes that include healthy items.
- Illness. Health conditions can contribute to a decrease in appetite and some seniors report that an illness has forced them to change the food they eat. Again, activities such as shared meals and discovering favorite recipes can encourage an increase in appetite.
- Physical problems. More than 25 percent of seniors living alone have difficulty getting to a grocery store or cooking for one. Consider checking out resources at your local Area Agency on Aging office to arrange for assistance with transportation or caregiving duties. Or, ask neighbors and compassionate friends for assistance.
- Smelly fridge. Check expiration dates and the condition of foods in your loved one’s fridge during your next visit. Are the foods spoiled? Re-packaging food into smaller portions, labeling and dating can help keep foods fresh and safe.
- Suspicious grocery list. When shopping for your parent, is the list loaded with sweets and pre-packaged foods? Assisting with shopping and meal preparation can keep our seniors on track with healthy eating.
- Important details. During a visit, make observations about skin tone and any sudden weight fluctuations. Any changes should be discussed with a family physician.
- Empty cupboard. Limited food supplies can be dangerous during a weather storm or other emergency. Provide back-up water, easy-to-prepare foods, and high-nutrition bars or drinks to keep the pantry stocked for unexpected emergencies.
- Support. Isolation and loneliness is a major contributor to poor eating habits for senior adults. If you cannot be there for your loved one, develop a schedule of family, friends and neighbors that can help provide companionship, shopping and meal preparation.
We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Houston, please call us at 832 379-4700 or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff supervising more than 100 quality-trained home care personnel covering the Houston, Texas area.