As a caregiver, trying to get your loved one to change entrenched habits can be a challenge. Even if you both know that these changes come from a place of love, respect, and wanting them to lead happier and healthier lives, upsetting routine is not always easy.
When it comes to dietary changes, things become even more challenging. Food can be a true source of enjoyment and choosing what to eat provides a sense of control. However dietary restrictions that limit the amount of sugar, fat, or sodium that one can consume often become a health imperative as we age. As a caregiver, how can you successfully implement dietary changes for your loved one?
Monitor their daily diet before making any changes whatsoever
Poor diet is a leading cause of many health conditions that affect the elderly population, including diabetes and heart disease. If your loved one suffers from one of these conditions or is on the path to developing such a disease without a lifestyle change, your loved one’s doctor will often recommend dietary changes.
You can assist your loved one by tracking what they eat in a given day. How many calories do they consume? Are they eating enough fibre, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C? Is your loved one eating too much sugar or sodium? Your loved one needs to know what they eat, when they eat, and how much they eat before you can implement dietary changes.
Dietary issues may also be a symptom of certain conditions. For example, if your loved one is depressed he or she may overeat. If your loved is suffering from dementia, they may forget to eat. Therefore keeping a record of their eating habits will provide a solid basis of understanding before moving forward.
Small changes are ALWAYS going to be more welcome than major upheavals
Even though you may have a tall task in front of you when it comes to designing a healthy diet for your loved one, you aren’t going to want to make tremendous changes right out of the blue. Dramatically altering your loved one’s diet with no warning will understandably be quite upset. Instead, implement a handful of smaller changes that are barely even noticed. For example, switch to whole wheat pasta, buy your loved one sugar-free candies as a treat, and buy leaner meat. If your loved one insists on adding salt at the table, put less salt in recipes to compensate.
Remove processed or frozen foods and replace them with fresh and healthier alternatives, and always look for ways to make their favourite foods tasty but a little bit healthier along the way as well. Consider enlisting the help of a homecare service in Ottawa to assist with healthy meal preparation and other homemaking tasks.
If you’re able to make subtle shifts on-the-fly and often, you’ll be able to completely overhaul their diet without any pushback – and they may even come to love this diet even more so than they love their old one!
Are you looking for more strategies to help your loved one with dietary changes? Qualicare Family Homecare can help. Give us a call at 613.366.2899 and we’d be happy to talk about caregiving or any related concerns.