Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to help older adults eat more and gain weight

Older adults lose appetite and weight for a number of reasons.  And it drives families crazy and sometimes the patient themselves.  There's a whole host of reasons and for every reason there's a number of solutions and medications are always the option of last resort.

Without getting into it too much, there are "normal" and "abnormal" reasons to lose appetite.

Normal reasons have to do with the normal aging process:
Losing the sense of smell
Losing sensitivity of taste buds
Dentures (which cover taste buds)
Decrease digestion ability and speed which leads to early fullnesss

Abnormal reasons include
Medications (meds are always first for abnormal anything)
Dry mouth (and dentures that are not cleaned)
Dementia (leading to problems of coordination, attention, awareness)
Congestive heart failure
and on and on.

What I wanted to do with this post is write about what I recommend as general recommendations for weight gain regardless of cause.  Ideally you remove the barrier/obstacle.  (i.e if there is a medication causing a side effect, then stop the medication).

Anyway, here are my tips....

To stimulate your appetite try changing the variety in your food.  Specifically change the 
1.  Taste-Salty, sweet, bitter, sour, spicy
2.  Temperature-Hot or cold
3.  Texture-Crunchy, soft, chewy, liquid
4.  Smell (for taste issues)

Make sure your mouth is clean to improve taste
Make sure your mouth is moist
Eat with others

To increase calories
1.  No restriction on diet:  No limits on salt, sugar, fat, or carb restriction.  Eat anything you want:  Bacon, sausage, bread, ice cream, candy, cookies, cheese etc.
2.  Increase the calories in your food by adding:  Heavy cream, cheese, sugar
3.  Buy Carnation Instant Breakfast instead of Boost or Ensure because it is cheaper.  Drink them between meals, not with meals.  

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