Top tips for helping seniors gain weight

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 9/28/2014 12:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
There are many different reasons for seniors to be under weight. It could be anything from a sore mouth to drug interactions to inability to prepare food to medical problems. Whatever the reason, there’s usually some way to rectify it. The first step is identifying the cause for being underweight. This can probably be done best by your loved one’s doctor.

Your parent’s doctor may give you some ideas for dietary changes or refer your parent to a dietician who can help. Basically the underweight senior is burning more calories than they are taking in, and they’re also running the risk of being malnourished because of it.

Meet with your loved one’s in-home care provider to go over some strategies to help your elder gain weight and have a healthy diet that provides him or her with all the nutrients they need. The following list should prove helpful.

Top tips for helping seniors gain weight:

  • Frequent eating. In order for a senior to gain weight they may need to eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. It can be difficult to get them to eat more at each meal, so breaking it up into smaller meals and having more of them is generally the way to go about it.
  • Smart calorie drinks. Most seniors need more hydration but it can be difficult to drink copious amounts of water. For an underweight person, adding more calories to their drinks can be very effective. Try blending some fruits and veggies together into a smoothie. If they don’t like the thickness of it, thin it down with some water.
  • Nutrient-dense food choices. Add nuts to salads. Don’t go for junk food like chips even though they are lots of calories; they are empty nutritionally. Choose whole grains, dairy products, seeds, meats, fruit and veggies and beans and legumes. It’s still important to eat lots of green veggies because they are so rich in necessary vitamins and minerals.
  • You can supplement with meal replacement drinks, just don’t replace meals with them. Choose drinks without too much added sugar. The calories should come from better sources than just sugar.
  • Regular exercise is still important. It helps your senior to bulk up their muscle mass as well as increasing their appetite. In particular, strength training will help your senior to gain weight as well as develop a stronger body. It’s best to consult with your senior’s doctor before starting an exercise plan to make sure everything is good to go.
Make sure desserts are nutritious as well as delicious. A bowl of berries with a little bit of real whipped cream on top is much healthier than a handful of processed white flour cookies.