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Improve the Appetite of Elderly People With Ease

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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Published on September 18, 2018

Coparenting 101: 17 Helpful Strategies for Divorced Parents

Coparenting 101: 17 Helpful Strategies for Divorced Parents

When people separate or divorce, one of their biggest challenges is coparenting their children together. As a Marriage and Family Therapist in Chicago, I often see divorced parents struggle with how to raise their children together.

One parent has a certain set of rules, and the other does it completely differently. It can be a real challenge to navigate this part of the divorce process.

Yet over the years, I have seen couples successfully raise their children together after a divorce. It takes a little attention and focus, but there are number of key strategies that these divorced couples employ to make coparenting much easier.

1. Communicate clearly.

When couples who are able to communicate coparenting items easily and without much emotion, they get a lot of the work of parenting done quickly. Yet when their discussions about parenting items are filled with emotion, then it muddies the waters.

If you find yourself fighting with your ex about all sorts of coparenting issues, you might want to set up a method of communication which reduces the emotion.

Perhaps a dedicated email thread that only has parenting items might keep the channels of communication more clean.

2. Clarify rules.

Many families we see here at our practice in Chicago have different rules at different houses for their children. This can certainly work, but the rules need to be clearly defined by the parents.

Where children struggle is when they are unclear about what the rules of each house are, and then try to manipulate the rules to get their way.

Clear communication of what the expectations are at each house can go a long way towards creating balance and stability.

3. Get out of the past.

It is important to be sure that any lingering items from your marriage stay as much in the past as possible.

Of course there will by dynamics from the marital relationship that persist in the coparenting relationship, but couples benefit by bringing their relationship out of the past and trying to create new ways of interacting around parenting items.

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4. Don’t triangulate.

One of the more difficult dynamics that we see in Family Therapy is when couples triangulate their children.

Triangulation is when whatever is unresolved between the parents gets transmitted through their interactions with the children.

In other words, the parents hostility and tension gets absorbed by the children and the children start acting it out. It can be very confusing when this happens, and Family Therapy can significantly help when this dynamic occurs.

5. Bless and release.

One thing that troubles a lot of people after a break up or divorce is that they continually hold on to old grudges or complaints.

In order to coparent more effectively, it can be helpful to bless and release your ex. This mean wishing them well and letting go of old hurts.

Can you hope for our ex that they have all good things and find the life and love that they are looking for? This sort of neutrality can go a long way with coparenting from a more balanced place.

6. Practice mindful parenting.

Many experts will tell parents to try to stay more calm than their child. If you are anxious, stressed and angry, then your child may become those things too.

Coparenting with an ex adds another layer of difficulty and potentially upsetting emotions. It is important to practice being mindful of your anxiety, stress and anger levels when parenting, and also when interacting with your coparent.

Finding ways to stay relaxed and put things in perspective can help.

7. Develop a support network.

Having a good team of trusted people in your corner can help to make sure you don’t feel alone in the process of coparenting. Talking with other parents who are divorced or separated might help you feel less alone in the process.

Additionally, having a trusted counselor or therapist in your corner who can help you look at your blind spots, can make a big difference.

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8. Practice presence.

Staying in the moment when parenting can be a useful thing whether you are coparenting, doing it alone, or alongside your partner.

Our minds can race all over the place when we are managing a lot of things in our family life. Yet taking time to stay in the moment and be present with your child will help calm and stabilize the situation.

If you are worried about future events, or stressed about what happened before, it takes you out of the present, which can be full of opportunities for meaningful experiences with your child.

9. Practice “I” statements.

A lot of couples will get in trouble by blaming their ex in front of their child. It can be difficult for them not to criticize their ex, or say something disparaging. Yet this can have a negative impact on the child.

Instead of pointing the finger, it helps to practice “I” statements. Talk about your frustration and how you get overwhelmed by difficult situations rather than commenting on how your ex made mistakes or is selfish.

Talking about your own experience helps you own your own power in the situation.

10. Learn to compromise.

If coparents are constantly arguing about their schedules, money, or what the rules are, then it can cause a very hostile and chaotic environment for the children.

Yet couples who learn to work together and compromise on the endless, daily family items that need to be negotiated, end up creating a more stable and calm environment for their children.

Even if you insist that you should have the children on a particular holiday because your ex had them the previous year, being willing to compromise and make alternate arrangements can pay off in the long run.

11. Give a little.

Coparents who are generous with one another, even if they are still upset about their breakup, help create an environment of wellbeing in their family.

If your coparent asks for a random extra weekend with the children, and you know that it is your turn that weekend, being generous and giving a little can go a long way towards generating good will.

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Withholding and counting each fairness and unfairness creates a less generous and more stingy family environment.

Of course you don’t want to compromise yourself and give over too much, but keeping on the lookout for when you can give just a bit more, can help the wellbeing of everyone involved.

12. Talk with your children.

Parents who worry about the potentially negative influence that their ex will have on their children do well by talking more with their kids.

If you are worried about what your ex might say to your child, it helps to have a good, open line of communication with the child such that you can better understand how they see the world.

It helps if they can talk with you about their confusion or any conflicting messages that they hear from their other parent.

13. Leverage your relationship.

Your child is hard wired to want to connect with you. Parents do well to know that the greatest influence that they have on their child is their relationship with them.

Your children are attached to you, and even if they act as if they want nothing to do with you, they are still wired for your approval and care.

Finding ways to leverage the inherent attachment can help create the sort of life that you’d like for your child.

14. Attract, don’t pursue.

Don’t overly pursue a connection with your child, but instead attract their interest to connect with you. When parents are too eager to chase a child who is distancing, then the child will often distance more.

Building on the inherent attachment that your child has with you, try to find ways to create harmonious and connected moments rather than asking them tons of questions and trying desperately to create closeness.

15. Open up.

Share more with your child about what you love, and what you are passionate about. Children who hear more about what parents care about tend to follow their own passions.

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Think about how many famous athletes or musicians children are also athletes or musicians. Children tend to follow the lead of their role models, and if you share what you love, then might emulate that pursuit themselves.

This can go a long way towards creating a lasting bond that can withstand any tension in a coparenting relationship.

16. Embrace change.

A lot of coparents have hidden regrets or live in the past. They wish their family situation could be different, but don’t know how to make it better.

Embracing change can help us move out of past hurts and regrets and find new ways to create the sort of changes we are looking for.

Perhaps you can find new ways to interact with your ex that might foster new family dynamics.

17. Make room for new possibilities.

A lot of divorced or separated couples that I work with tend to become hopeless about anything new happening in the family dynamic. They see patterns of interaction repeat themselves over and over, and they anticipate it will continue this way forever.

Yet if there is one thing we can count on is that things will eventually change. Making room in your mind for new possibilities can alleviate some of the hopelessness that sometimes comes with difficult coparenting situations.

Yes you are divorced, but It is indeed possible to be good coparents. Communication and patience go hand in hand if you want to raise happy and healthy kids as a divorced parent.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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