By the time you reach 70, your mouth produces less saliva, and taste buds are shrinking. While you used to have around 10,000 taste buds, you don’t have as many. That impacts your sense of taste. Your sense of smell is also starting to decrease due to lessened mucus production and changes to nerve endings.
It may be normal for those senses to diminish, but that doesn’t make it easy. When foods don’t smell or taste the same, it makes it harder to enjoy your meal. You may not be interested in eating if things don’t smell or taste appealing. That’s what’s happening with your parents.
While you understand the issues at hand, that doesn’t help. You need them to eat, but nothing you’ve cooked appeals to them. Food is going untouched. What do you do?
Try New Flavors
One of the first steps to take is trying new flavors. You may see older adults adding a lot of salt to the foods they cook. That’s often an attempt to add flavor. Instead of relying on salt, use herbs and spices. Some of the more robust herbs and spices are cinnamon, basil, cumin, mint, and oregano.
Use citrus peel and juice instead of adding salt. You’ve made steamed broccoli for your parents. They used to love broccoli, but now they’re not as interested. Toss it with freshly squeezed orange juice, black pepper, and orange zest.
At the same time, try new foods. Your mom has never had a kiwi. Now is an excellent time to see what she thinks. The fruit’s citrusy, sweet flavor may appeal to her. If she does like it, add it to a fruit salad with other fruits she still enjoys.
Try Small Plates Instead of Full Meals
Stop serving full meals. Look into Spanish tapas plates. Instead of offering meals, see if your parents eat more when they’re offered these small plates every couple of hours. It helps keep the blood sugar levels regulated, too. You could start with a plate of orange slices when they get up. A couple of hours later, serve triangles of avocado toast.
Other ideas for small plates include grilled shrimp that have been tossed in olive oil and fresh garlic, carrot sticks and hummus, and miniature cauliflower fritters. You can also serve a plate with antipasto items like fresh mozzarella, olives, and roasted red peppers. Deviled eggs, finger sandwiches, and fritters are other suitable ideas for small plates.
You’re feeling frustrated. Now is a good time to walk away and let someone else handle meal preparation. If cooking dinners is causing you stress, shift to other tasks that you don’t mind doing. Have senior care aides cook meals while you help your parents in the garden. Let them cook while you do the laundry.
It’s important to know when to hand over some of the things you do to help your parents. There’s a misconception among family caregivers that they need to do it all. You don’t. It’s better to know your limits and hire senior care aides when you’ve reached a point where it’s too much to do alone.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Frederick, MD please contact the caring staff at Just Divine Home Care Agency today at (301) 219-1585.