When checking the refrigerator of your aging loved one, most of us will scan for whole food vs. junk food. What other clues can we look for in the refrigerator to tell us more about the health, wellness, and mental state of seniors?
Here are some tips:
- Are their favorite foods that you stock not disappearing as fast? This could indicate a drop in appetite, a common symptom of aging. Also, a lack of variety decreases the joy of eating, and apathy can occur.
- Is there a disproportionate amount of sweets to savory food? As we age, the sense of taste is one of the first to deteriorate, and we need foods that pack more flavor (such as sugar) to stimulate our taste buds.
- Similar to the above, aging people tend to compensate with spices to boost the flavor of their food and the likelihood they will taste it. Think of your grandfather adding a mountain of pepper to his mashed potatoes.
- Are there spills in the back of the fridge that they are unable to see, or to reach to clean?
- Do you see spoiled frozen dinners? These may have been taken out of the freezer to thaw, but never warmed up and forgotten in the fridge. Your loved one may not have realized that the dinner has spoiled, and food poisoning is a risk.
- Do you see mostly consumer packaged goods instead of “real” foods? These do not provide the necessary nutrition for proper aging, and can contribute to a loss of joy in eating. From there, more problems spiral: weight loss, muscle loss, agility loss, increased risk of falling, and so forth. An entire gamut of health problems result from improper nutrition.
- Check expiration dates on packaged foods, especially dairy. For the children of the Great Depression, milk and eggs were often fresh from the farm, and they were not accustomed to keeping them for a length of time. Also, necessity required that nothing go to waste, and the habit of hanging onto food longer than acceptable may still persist.
An in-home caregiver at Professional Caretakers can address the above concerns through the services we offer. To manage proper nutrition for your loved one, a caregiver can handle everything from preparing a weekly meal plan, shopping for groceries, cooking the meal, companionship during the meal, and cleaning up the dishes. The meals themselves will be free of preservatives and unnecessary sodium common in many frozen dinners. Think of the peace of mind you will have knowing that one of the most crucial aspects to health is handled by Professional Caretakers.