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Seniors facing difficulties with eating: solutions          Send a link to a friend

To the editor:

A recent article on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website addressed some problems and solutions regarding nutrition for seniors. Eating well as people age can be difficult at times. Some of the reasons for not eating well can be such things as difficulty chewing, upset stomach, inability to shop or cook, and no appetite.

Difficulty chewing

If you have difficulty chewing, you may have trouble eating foods such as meat, fresh fruits and vegetables.

What to do:

Try other foods:

  • Instead of fresh fruit, try fruit juices and soft canned fruits, such as applesauce, peaches, and pears

  • Instead of raw vegetables, try vegetable juices and creamed and mashed cooked vegetables

  • Instead of meat, try ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and foods made with milk, such as pudding and cream soups.

  • Instead of sliced bread, try cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding and soft cookies.

Upset stomach

Stomach problems and gas may make you stay away from foods that you think are causing the problem. When you do that, you can miss out on important nutrients.

What to do:

Try other foods that may not bother you, such as:

  • Instead of milk, try milk foods such as cream soups, pudding, yogurt and cheese.

  • Instead of vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli, try vegetable juices and other vegetables, such as green beans, carrots and potatoes.

  • Instead of fresh fruit, try fruit juices and soft canned fruits.

You may need to see your doctor for stomach problems.

Inability to shop

There can be several reasons why you can't shop. You may have difficulty standing or walking for long periods of time, or you may not drive anymore.

What to do:

  • Ask your local store if they will deliver your groceries. There may be a charge.

  • Ask your church for volunteer help. Or sign up for help at a local volunteer center.

  • Ask a family member or neighbor to shop for you. There are home health agencies that can shop and do a variety of things for you. Look for "Home Health Services" in the yellow pages of your phone book.

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Inability to cook

You may have difficulty holding utensils or pots and pans. Sometimes it may be hard to stand long enough to cook a meal.

What to do:

  • Use a microwave oven to cook TV dinners, other frozen foods and foods made up ahead of time by the store.

  • Take part in group meal programs, offered through senior citizen programs. Or have meals brought to your home.

  • Move to a place where someone else will cook, such as a family member's home or senior housing.

To find out more about senior citizen group meals and home-delivered meals, call 800-677-1116. These meals cost little or no money.

No appetite

If your food has no flavor or tastes bad, this could be caused by medicines. Sometimes you may be lonely or don't feel like cooking just for one. This could make you lose your appetite.

What to do:

  • Ask your doctor if your medicines could be causing appetite or taste problems. If so, ask about changing medicines.

  • Increase the flavor of food by adding spices and herbs.

  • Eat with family and friends.

  • Take part in group meal programs, offered through senior citizen programs.

If you have questions or want more information, you can call the Logan County Health Department at 217-735-2317, The Oasis senior center at 217-732-6132 or CIEDC at 217-732-9391.

Submitted by Marcia Cook, LPN
Senior Issues Task Force

(To view related government publication, click here.) [To download Adobe Acrobat Reader for the PDF file, click here.]

[Posted March 27, 2007]

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