Seniors & Exercise (Part 1): The Benefits

Is your elderly loved one struggling to perform daily activities? Are you concerned about their mood, energy levels or loss of appetite? Are they in pain or have they fallen recently?

There is a solution that could help with all of these issues that is both convenient and beneficial! Regular exercise can be a positive remedy for many of the ailments your aging adult is experiencing. Even those with physical limitations can engage in some form of exercise. It is important throughout our lives to engage in daily physical activity and as we age, maybe even more so. A senior who is active and exercises regularly can live a longer, healthier and happier life!

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The benefits for seniors who engage in daily physical activity:

  • Maintain their Independence – Regular exercise will improve strength which will help your aging adult to be more capable of handling daily activities such as walking, bathing, dressing and cooking by themselves.
  • Prevention or Delay of Diseases – An active lifestyle for your senior may prevent or delay them from developing diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis and depression. Exercise can also reduce the unpleasantness of symptoms they may already be experiencing due to these diseases.
  • Improve Balance – Daily physical activity keeps your bones and muscles strong and enables you to maintain balance as you age. Accordingly, this greatly reduces the risk of falling.  
  • Improve Brain Function – Engaging in regular exercise can improve your thinking process, ability to learn and your judgement. It can also reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
  • Increase Energy – More energy means more life to be lived! It can also increase appetite to ensure adequate calorie intake for your senior.
  • Improve Moods and Reduce Pain – Any amount of exercise releases endorphins, essential neurochemicals that reduce your perception of pain and give you a sense of contentment. These endorphins promote healthy sleep, reduce stress and anxiety and make you feel more energetic and enthusiastic!
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Always speak to your family physician before engaging in activities you are uncertain about and ask them what they would recommend for daily exercise.

Now that you know all the amazing benefits of regular exercise, pick something that works for your elderly loved one and maybe even do the activities with them! You can find great ideas for daily exercises here: Seniors & Exercise (Part 2): Daily Activities COMING SOON. Surrey-North Delta Meals on Wheels is an essential volunteer community service that has been benefiting the residents of Surrey and North Delta for 61 years. We provided and delivered over 24,000 meals and bagged lunches in 2020 to those who could not prepare meals for themselves. Go to our website to find out more about our charity, to donate or to register www.sndmow.com

Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 3): 9 Ways to Stimulate their Appetite

Are you offering your elderly loved one all the right foods, or even the wrong ones, but they are still refusing to eat? Are you concerned that they are wasting away from not eating or not eating enough? Have you tried everything to stimulate their appetite and nothing is helping?

We are here to help with Part 3 of Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors!

Chances are your senior is not wasting away but you definitely have reason to be concerned. It can be unsettling when someone we love doesn’t or isn’t able to take proper care of themselves. We previously talked about assessing and narrowing down the reasons why a senior may have changed their eating habits in Part 1. By now, you have probably ruled out any medical issues with their doctor or dentist and tried some of the ideas for foods to offer your elderly loved one in Part 2. We know it has been a long journey but don’t give up now, we have some suggestions to help get your aging adult excited about eating again!

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Here are 9 ways to help your elderly loved one increase their appetite:

  1. Relieve the Discomforts that are Caused by Medications

Medications, although necessary, have some adverse side effects that can cause your senior to have a reduced appetite. Dry mouth, a strange or metallic taste or a reduced ability to taste and constipation are among the most common. These side effects can also be normal signs of aging.

Dry Mouth – ask your senior to brush their teeth, use an oral rinse or chew sugarless gum before their meals to help make chewing and swallowing more comfortable.

Strange/Metallic Taste – use plastic (or eco-friendly bamboo) cutlery instead of metal spoons and forks. Use fresh mint, sliced cucumbers, lemons or any other sliced fruit to enhance their water with flavors and nutrients (You can also use a flavoured water enhancer). Use different proteins like beans, dairy or tofu if meat enhances the strange or metallic taste.

Reduced/Bland Taste – try using different herbs and spices to keep things flavourful and interesting (use a little MORE to make the flavours stronger). Enhancing their water with fruit or vegetables can also stimulate their taste buds!

Constipation – increase their fiber and fluid intake as well as their physical activity to reduce the uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms of constipation.

  1. Treat Dehydration but Limit Fluids During Meals

To help boost your senior’s appetite, make sure they are getting plenty of liquids, especially water, throughout the day. During meals, a drink may be needed to help moisten food and to swallow safely but try to avoid fluids while eating to reduce the risk of feeling full before actually finishing the meal. It is best to limit fluids to half an hour before and after a meal!

  1. Create a Routine and Have a Regular Meal Schedule

If your elderly loved one does not already have a routine with meals being eaten at the same time every day, make one! The eating of meals on a regular schedule, trains our bodies and minds to be ready for food at that particular time.

  1. Serve Smaller Portions of High Nutrient Foods

A plate full of food could be overwhelming to a senior so its important to offer smaller portions of nutrient-rich, high protein foods. It’s even better to offer smaller meals more often during the day, rather than the traditional 3 large meals per day, try serving 5 or maybe 6 smaller meals instead.

  1. Finger Foods, Drinkable Meals and Snacking

Use finger foods for meal time to make the experience easier and more enjoyable for your aging adult, especially if utensils have become hard or impossible to use. If chewing has become an issue, try serving drinkable meals such as healthy milkshakes and smoothies or nutritious soups. Pureeing or mincing meals is also an option but not typically as appetizing! Snacking should always be encouraged, just make sure there is healthy nutritious snacks on hand!

  1. Increase Physical Activity

There is no doubt that a little exercise will help your elderly loved one increase their appetite! Find a type of senior safe exercise that works for them and have them engage in physical activity regularly to increase their energy needs and therefore increasing their hunger.

  1. Encourage Social Meals

Joining others for a meal can stimulate an elderly loved one’s appetite. Make plans for them to eat with you or another friend or relative once or twice a week. Also, try reaching out to some local organizations that offer social meals for seniors such as community or seniors centers or churches.

  1. Make Mealtime an Experience and Let Them Choose

Change the setting of where your senior eats by using their favourite table cloth or their best china, lighting a candle or two and maybe putting on some soft music. Join them, if you can, with some pleasant conversation! Involve your aging adult in meal planning, give them choices and LET THEM CHOOSE. It will be easier to boost their appetite if they are being offered the foods they love!

  1. Offer Alcohol or an Appetite Stimulant

A safe way to stimulate a senior’s appetite is with a small amount of beer or wine before a meal. If appetite suppression has become severe, you may want to consider talking to their doctor about an appetite stimulant prescription.

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Always talk to your doctor about your concerns, they may have more solutions to help increase your elderly love one’s appetite. Did any of these suggestions work of you? Let us know! If you found this series helpful and informative, please feel free to comment or share it amongst your peers. Follow our blog and our social media for more informative articles, updates on our services, community building and to connect with us! FaceBook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn

Surrey-North Delta Meals on Wheels has been serving the areas of Surrey, North Delta and Cloverdale since 1970. We deliver fresh, nutritious meals to those who are unable to prepare adequate meals for themselves. To find out more about us or to donate to our charity, please visit www.sndmow.com.

Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 2): Foods for Elderly with No Appetite

Is your elderly loved one refusing to eat? Are you concerned that they are losing weight and have decreased energy? Are they experiencing difficulty chewing or swallowing?

It’s not always easy to know what to do when dealing with a senior who refuses to eat.

It can be a challenge to know what foods to provide them with to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need. After you have assessed their situation and narrowed down what may be causing your senior to have a lack of or reduced appetite, see article Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 1): 9 Reasons Why They May Not Be Eating, you can begin to plan what kinds of foods to offer. Some situations may call for soft foods, minced foods or even pureed foods. Other situations may call for certain nutrients or vitamins to promote heart health or increase energy or decrease nausea.

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Food ideas for elderly with no appetite/decreased appetite:

  • High Nutrient/Healthy Calorie Foods

Avocados, eggs, bananas, fish, meats, cheeses, vegetable oils, nuts or peanut and other nut butters.

  • Milk, Shakes & Smoothies

Use sweet fruit and full-fat ice cream or yogurt to boost nutritional content and flavour. If they’re feeling adventurous add some vegetables such as carrots or spinach to your smoothies! Drinking full-fat milk, chocolate milk and hot cocoa is also good.

  • High-Calorie Soups

Like smoothies and shakes, liquid calories are generally easier to consume for aging adults. Soups made with cream, olive oil and/or pureed meats and vegetables are amongst the most nutritious.

  • Finger Foods

Chicken nuggets, fish sticks, cocktail sausages, meatballs, cheese strings, raw or steamed veggies, fruit, dried fruit, toast, crackers and nuts are all great examples of nutritional finger foods. Enhance their toast, crackers or apple slices with cheese or nut butter. Don’t forget to offer their favourite sauce or dip to spice things up!

  • Salads

You can make a vitamin and mineral rich salad using a variety of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Enhancing their salads with meat, nuts, seeds and/or eggs boosts the nutritional value!

  • Protein Shakes

Or other high calorie nutritional supplement drinks such as Ensure or Boost. You can also add protein powder to their milkshakes or smoothies!

  • Herbs & Spices

Adding flavourful herbs and spices can perk up their taste buds. Try using curry, cumin, garlic, onion, turmeric, caraway or cinnamon to name a few!

This article is intended to give you ideas for nutritional foods to offer your elderly loved one who has a lack of or reduced appetite. If you are still experiencing issues with a senior not eating/not eating enough, use this link for ways to stimulate their hunger Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 3): 9 Ways to Stimulate their Appetite. Surrey-North Delta Meals on Wheels provides and delivers fresh, nutritious meals to anyone who, by reason of age, physical or mental handicap or illness, cannot prepare adequate meals for themselves. We are able to accommodate special dietary requirements such as diabetics, vegetarians, pureed or minced diets and food allergies. To find out more about us, to donate, to see our menu or to register, visit our website www.sndmow.com.

Managing Loss of Appetite in Seniors (Part 1): 9 Reasons Why They May Not Be Eating

Has your elderly loved one had a sudden decrease or lack of appetite? Are they having troubles chewing or swallowing? Or are they just not wanting to eat? Have you noticed a change in their weight or energy levels?

This doesn’t always mean something is wrong, it could be just a normal part of aging.

It is common for seniors to eat less as their metabolism slows and their nutritional needs change. It may be hard to cope with a sudden change in appetite as a loved one gets older, especially if they refuse to eat at all. You may be concerned about their unusual eating habits or that they are not getting the nourishment they require. It’s important to understand WHY they are experiencing a change in what they eat or how much they eat.

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Here are 9 possible reasons your elderly loved one has changed their eating habits:

  1. Decrease or Loss of smell, taste and/or vision

Eating is an activity that engages all of your senses! In fact, your sense of smell affects your ability to taste and directly influences your appetite. A loss or decrease of any of these senses can make eating less enjoyable.

  1. Slowing of Metabolism and less Physical Activity

Due to this your senior needs less calories, meaning they will eat less food.

  1. Difficulty Chewing and/or Swallowing

This may be caused by dental problems, medical conditions, medications or normal age-related changes.

  1. Depression or Loneliness

Mealtime can be depressing for some elderly as they may not have anyone to enjoy a meal with which increases their feeling of loneliness.

  1. Lack of Routine (or changes to routine)

A lack of daily routine can cause confusion and discomfort around mealtimes.

  1. Inability to Prepare Meals

When living alone, preparing meals might have become too difficult, grasping kitchen utensils or using appliances may not be as easy as it once was.

  1. Loss of Control/Unpleasant Mealtimes

Being dependent on another person to prepare your meals may make your loved one feel a loss of control over what and when they eat. If disagreements happen due to this, it can cause a senior to associate food with unpleasantness.

  1. Medication Side Effects

Some medications have adverse side effects causing such things as dry mouth, dehydration and a metallic taste.

  1. Medical Conditions

Conditions such as stroke, dementia, MS, Parkinson’s, thyroid disorders, head and neck cancers and periodontal disease can cause loss of appetite.

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This article is to help your understanding of why your elderly loved one has a decreased or lack of appetite. To learn about good foods to offer seniors with no appetite use this link Managing Loss of Appetite (Part 2): Foods for Elderly with No AppetiteIf you’re in need of freshly prepared nutritious meals delivered to the home of your elderly loved one, please use this link to find out more about Surrey-North Delta Meals on Wheels and how we can help you www.sndmow.com/meals