Here are some tips suggested by the Mayo Clinic that family caregivers can take to reduce the likelihood of elderly parents or loved ones becoming malnourished:

– Encourage regular physical activity. (See Home Care Partners previous blog entries on this topic.) Daily exercise – even if it’s light – can stimulate appetite and strengthen bones and muscles.

– Advise your elderly parents to eat foods packed with nutrients. Spread peanut butter on toast and crackers. Provide fresh fruits, and raw vegetables, for snacking. Sprinkle finely chopped nuts or wheat germ on yogurt, fruit and cereal. Add extra egg whites to scrambled eggs and omelets. Add cheese to sandwiches, vegetables, soups, rice and noodles.

– Prepare and supply between-meal snacks. If it is within eyesight and within reach, your elders may grab a bite. Simple items such as a piece of fruit or cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter, or a fruit smoothie can provide nutrients and calories.

– There are many occasions when subtly guiding behavior will work. Think about money saving tips on grocery shopping. If your parents shop for groceries, encourage him or her to take a shopping list to the grocery store. Check on local ads or store fliers for sales. You may be able to purchase less expensive generic brands, and save considerable money. Maybe a neighbor across the street will split the cost of bulk goods or meals which provides savings for all. Discover local restaurants which offer discounts for older adults.

– Add a little spice to meals. Make a restricted diet more appealing by using ingredients such as lemon juice, herbs, or certain spices. Many seniors may have lost some of their sense of taste and/or smell. Prepare meals and experiment with new seasonings. Or try a new recipe.

Home Care Partners will provide a home health aide to help in shopping for groceries, or in preparing daily meals.

– Finally, communicate and engage with your doctor. There may be certain medications which are reducing appetite, or causing weight loss. Discuss with your doctor. Seniors may have difficulty chewing certain foods. Or swallowing.

Establish a nutritional diet regimen until your parents are eating more effectively.