Is Mom Losing Weight? What You Can Do to Help.
Friday, May 4, 2012 • 1:43pm
As an in home caregiver to your mother or other loved one, it can be hard to notice when your parent is getting enough to eat.
Dr. Miriam Rodin, MD and PhD and associate professor of geriatrics at the University of St. Louis, said that the first clue is weight loss.
“Mostly I find patients who have depression or dementia who have lost their appetite,” she said. “If they have depression they have no appetite and if they have dementia they forget to eat or don’t recognize that they are hungry—that’s why they wander at night a lot.”
Dr. Rodin said that someone taking numerous medications might also eat less. “The more pills you take, the more likely it is that something is killing your appetite,” she said. She recommends that patients, with the help of medical professionals, minimize the number of drugs they consume to improve their appetite.
For people in their 80s and older, Dr. Rodin said that restrictive diets can be harmful to their health and actually deprive them of nutritional benefits. “Give people what they want to eat,” she said, adding that she often recommends patients eat ice cream before bed. “The issue is to get the calories in, so eat what tastes good. They should have a lot of protein like hard-boiled eggs and cheese cubes.”
Often people cannot safely move around in their own kitchen anymore, and that can prevent them from eating enough. The Homewatch CareGivers’ Guide to In-Home Senior Safety covers home care and safety for every room of the house—including the kitchen.
The kitchen is a high-risk area of the home since appliances and stovetop burners can be left on; your mother may not feel steady enough to use a cutting knife; vision problems might prevent your mother from being able to see expiration dates; foods out of reach in a high cupboard might keep your loved one from being able to reach everything they need.
“They are pretty much like children,” Dr. Rodin said of very elderly people.
For caregivers who do not live with their mother or loved one, Dr. Rodin said that she often hears people wonder why they have delivered the groceries and still see weight loss in their parent. “You have to ask yourself where the food is going,” she said. “If you buy things that require a lot of cooking and she is not eating it, then you have to make changes.”
The in home caregiver may need to have an honest talk with their loved one about their comfort level in the kitchen. Suggest grocery shopping together, the option of a services such as Meals on Wheels or Mom's Meals deliver nutritional food regularly and make sure that they are involved in the process of rearranging the kitchen and selecting new foods.
Local Clinical and Geriatric Nutritionist, Janet Hollander offers Nutritional Counseling. Janet works hand-in-hand with clients to customize their diets according to their individual needs to help decrease the possibility of developing or help eliminate obesity, heart disease, diabetes, food allergies, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, and eating disorders - and promote wellness. For her contact information please call Homewatch CareGivers at (973)810-0110 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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