My Mom is Living On Junk Food and Cigarettes

A diet of cigarettes and junk food
My mother is aging, but enjoys her independence, and so she lives alone, and we get over to see her as much as we can. I live about an hour from her, but with my work and family, it is difficult to make visits as regularly as I should. My siblings live all over the country, and so the primary responsibility of making sure she is okay falls to me, as I am the closest.

Last week I visited and noticed her fridge and pantry were a little bare. Then this week a neighbor had mentioned my mother rarely shops or gets out of the house any more.
I asked my mother what she had been eating lately, and she told me that she mostly just smokes, and has little appetite. This sent up a red flag, so I checked her trash bin, which had not been collected yet that week. I discovered she was consisting mostly on chocolate bars, cigarettes, and pizza delivery. 

Sometimes its difficult to make regular visits.
My mom is a very independent woman, and would never consent to living in an assisted care facility. But I worry that she is not taking care of herself properly, and especially that she is not eating enough, or the right, foods to keep her healthy. What can I do?

Many caregivers find themselves in similar situations, with senior parents and loved ones that are not eating well, or are getting by on unhealthy foods. While they may be healthy for a time, a poor diet can lead to malnutrition, which results in long term consequences to their health. Malnourished seniors are at far greater risk for injury, poor healing, longer hospital stays, and many other costly medical interventions. If your loved one is not getting the nutrition they need on their own, it is time to step in and help. Even small dietary changes can greatly impact the well-being of a senior. Consider the following:

1. Talk to their doctor if they are losing weight, and make sure that anything that might be impacting their appetite is considered. For example, various medications, diet restrictions, dental health problems, etc. might be contributing to their lack of appetite. These can often be fixed, but not if they go unnoticed.

2. Encourage loved ones to eat healthy foods full of nutrients, rather than junk foods. Help them find ways to add health to their diet, such as mixing nuts and granola into yogurt, or sprinkling wheat germ on top of toast, etc.

3. Help them find more appealing foods if they are on a restricted diet. Sometimes a little adjustment to seasoning can help bring life back into foods that are unappealing otherwise.

4. Talk to your senior loved one about healthy snacking, and help them to stock their pantry with nuts, fruits, peanut butter, or other foods that can provide both nutrients and calories.

5. Make meals social. Often eating a lone makes meal time unappealing, so try to invite loved ones or friends over to share meals, or enroll them in programs where meals can be more social.

6. Encourage daily exercise, as this stimulates appetite and contributes to healthier bones.

7. Help them get to the store, or help food get to them if their mobility is poor.

8. Consider outside help. Often the best way to insure your parent is getting more than junk food and cigarettes is to set them up with a program for home delivered meals. Mom’s Meals is a great option, as it is freshly prepared, healthy meals delivered to the door (or kitchen) of your loved one. The meals cost less than pizza delivery, and because there is a wide variety (over 70 menu choices) the senior is sure to get options that appeal to them. The food stays fresh for up to 18 days in the fridge, and there are specific menus to help meet dietary restrictions such as gluten free. This is an excellent way to provide healthy, tasty meals, in an affordable and convenient way. The senior simply has to microwave the entrĂ©e for three minutes.
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The CareGiver Partnership is a national direct-to-consumer retailer of home healthcare products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, daily living aids, nutrition support and more. In its sixth year of providing products and services that help caregivers and loved ones maintain personal dignity, the company also offers an online library of more than 1,200 family caregiver resources and personal service by experts in caregiving. Call 1-800-985-1353 or visit online.


Prince2 Training said...

Great tips for taking care of elders. We should show them that we are there for them always that helps them to live the live happier.

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