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Improve the Appetite of Elderly People With Ease

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Improve the Appetite of Elderly People With Ease

Perhaps you are of the older generation of folks, or maybe you are a caretaker for someone who is elderly. Whatever the case may be, it is more than likely that your appetite is not in the best shape. While it is an inevitable sign of the digestive system changing due to old age, it can be difficult to stomach the truth. Pun intended.

In any case, you do not have to be worried about appetite loss because it can always be improved. We are here to help. Below are stress-free ways to improve the appetite of elderly people easily, making it hassle-free to get back into enjoying what you love, e.g. food! Without further ado, let’s begin!

Things to Consider When it Comes to Appetite Loss

Before you start improving your appetite (or that of your elderly patient), you will need to consider the possible reasons why the appetite is lacking in the first place. Essentially, we can attribute a loss in appetite to a few of these factors:

1. Allergies.

Suppose the elderly person has a food allergy that he or she had not known about. Whether it is an allergy to dairy products, wheat, or to seafood – having such an allergy can affect how the stomach processes (or rather, rejects) the food consumed. Being careful when you expose yourself (or your patient) to different foods is the way to go.

2. Portion control.

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Serving either too large or too small of a portion can be a problem, as it can interfere with the digestive tract. Too large of a portion can lead to discomfort and indigestion, while a portion that is too small can leave one unsatisfied and prone to consuming more food later on. Either way, none of them are ideal.

3. Use of spices and herbs.

As you age, your taste buds start to fade, meaning that taste becomes less intense and flavorful. That said, spices and herbs, such as chili powder, cilantro, or even black pepper, might not taste the same as it once did, which, as a result, can discourage elderly people from eating. Lack of flavor means a meal that is less palatable and thus, less desirable.

4. Changes to the digestive system.

Naturally, as people get older, it is not uncommon to start developing problems in terms of digestion. From aspects like constipation and bloating to ulcers, there are a variety of issues that are annoying and even dangerous, but also an inevitable part of life.

How to Improve the Appetite

Now that you know some possible reasons why elderly people have problems with their appetites, it is now time to reverse that trend. Here, we give you a breakdown of possible options that you can do to change the situation:

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1. Make it a routine.

If you have spent a large part of your life with an irregular eating schedule, then it might be a good idea to change those habits and aim for a consistent eating schedule.

For instance, if you normally skip breakfast, then it can be beneficial to try to start to eat in the morning. Not only will this stimulate your appetite, but it will also help you control your appetite for the subsequent meals, i.e. lunch and dinner.

2. Drink plenty of fluids.

Water and other liquids are of the most essential aspects of keeping your health and wellness in tact, in terms of maintaining chemical balances in the body that keep you feeling good and refreshed.

If you are lacking proper hydration, then help yourself to a glass of water to hydrate and re-energize. Aim for a few glasses each day, and you will start to notice your appetite returning to normal as well.

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3. Keep a positive mind.

This is more of a psychological point, but it is not only physical factors that can have an impact to your appetite, but also on your current mental state as well. For instance, people with depression either tend to overeat or eat nothing at all, which then upsets the balance in the digestive system.

That said, if you are feeling just a little bit down, try to do some uplifting activities, like spending time with friends, exercising, or watching your favorite television show. Having a happier outlook on life will make you more likely to resume a normal digestive balance. In addition to that, if you suffer from depression, talking to a therapist can be a good alternative to consider.

4. Social eating.

Adding on from point #3 above, spending time with good friends not only cheers you up, but it can also encourage social eating, where all of you get together and have a nice meal around the table. This is especially great if you do not feel the incentive to eat on your own because having friends to cook and eat with can be a great influence in the way you eat.

Perhaps you can plan out a dinner during the week to get together at the house and enjoy the company of one another. All through food, of course! You can plan out who will make what dish and then bring it over, pot-luck style, for everyone to taste and enjoy. This is also a good way to expand your palate to new flavors and cuisines!

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5. Try cooking different dishes and/or cuisines.

While delicious, cooking steak and potatoes every day over a long period of time can really put you in a rut, not to mention get you tired of the taste quickly. With that being said, why not spice it up?

In other words, expand your cooking skills to other dishes out there: test out a new spaghetti recipe or try your hand at preparing seafood. Or, if you still cannot give up steak and potatoes, try adding different seasonings (herbs, garlic powder, chili powder) to shake up the usual salt-and-pepper standard. Not only will it be more interesting, but also potentially more delicious!

Conclusion

The appetite is a delicate balance between physiological and mental conditions that can change drastically as you get older. However, instead of succumbing to it, stimulate it by reevaluating your lifestyle and cooking new dishes! Pretty soon, you will have a solid appetite to enjoy the pleasures of eating again.

Featured photo credit: Appetite of Elderly People via ascseniorcare.com

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Jessica Natalie

Teacher, Runner

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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