Sunday, September 29, 2013

Concerned about your parents nutrition?

(Picture from Seniors List site) I found an article on Seniors List website called
' Nutritian and Hydration in the Elderly'. For those of us with older parents, we can all attest to the fact that their eating habits change. They want to eat less so we worry about their health, will they lose too much weight. If there is an illness, how does that impact their eating or drinking, are they focused too much on their condition? Is the condition the problem - with dementia or Alzheimer's they may forget to eat or drink. Sometimes incontinence is an issue. I know with mom, she would watch her drinking or fruit intake to stop her from going to the bathroom every couple of hours, especially if we were traveling or had to drive a long distance. 'Seniors List' mentions some things to investigate to see if you can find the root of the eating and/or drinking problem.
* Has there been a swallow study (Modified Barium Swallow) done to rule out a physical problem which makes swallowing difficult?
* Are ill-fitting dentures or poor dentition to blame for a decrease in eating?
* Is there a fear of drinking or eating because of problems with incontinence?
* Is depression a factor?
* Are medications to blame?
* Is dementia a factor?
* Is a decrease in appetite the result of a terminal illness?
Mom had issues with a couple of these - incontinence and dentures. So we adjusted her drinking with what we were doing. For her dentures, she would take them out before eating, we would cut up food in small pieces or shred it, eat more things like applesauce and yogurt. One time a dental hygienist told me that when older folks start losing weight, it affects their mouth and dentures will not fit properly. The 'Seniors List' site also lists questions caregivers need to ask if thinking about alternative nutrition methods. They are:
* Will alternative nutrition/hydration improve nutritional status?
* Will alternative nutrition/hydration decrease the risk of disease or prevent disease?
* Will alternative nutrition/hydration help to increase life expectancy?
* Will alternative nutrition/hydration improve the quality of life?
* Is alternative nutrition/hydration a short-term or long-term intervention?
* What are the risks involved with alternative nutrition/hydration?
* Are there any considerations if alternative nutrition/hydration is provided, but there is a "change of heart"?
So it is important to make decisions specific to the parent's condition and other medical concerns. People need to talk to their healthcare professional for advice.

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