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Keeping the elderly healthy


Keeping the elderly healthy

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How do we know our elderly folk are taking care of themselves nutritionally? This can be a sensitive subject to discuss with parents and grandparents alike if not approached with care. As time goes by, we seem to lose our appetite and skip the odd meal. Over time, this can escalate into several skipped meals and the nutrition level goes down as a result, particularly if living alone.

In cultures where we see many generations living under the one roof, mealtimes are shared by all. There may be a watchful eye observing how much people are eating. As expats, parents and grandparents are only seen during holidays and visits home or abroad. As lifestyles change for raging people, I am sure you will have noticed that when older folk move in with family members or into care facilities, they generally put on weight and this is because the diet of many of our older folk is not very nutritious and they tend to eat irregularly.

When we ask ageing parents or grandparents “Are you eating?”, “can I get you something?”, “Do you need any shopping?” the majority will say, “Oh don’t bother, I’m fine. There is plenty of food in the cupboard.” How many of us go to the cupboard to check? We don’t normally because we do not want to get involved in an argument or make a person feel that they are not in control. The fact of the matter may be that there are not foods in the cupboard for good nutrition. A packet of cracker biscuits, canned soups and a box of sugar cereal with a few potatoes or canned corn is not what one would call nutritious. It is a very delicate issue when we start to enquire into people’s eating habits. Having seen what a lot of young people and parents eat, the aged concern me greatly. They never want to be a bother and will do anything to remove the thought of being a burden to someone. They will also insist that all is well, often for fear of being moved into care facilities.

Why is it the older folk have such an independent attitude? Well, we must not forget many of them grew up through vary hard economic times and this gave them a sense of values based on overcoming hardship. On the other hand, their offspring, the “baby boomers”, have a very different attitude to life. Moving now more in Gen X, their parents, the baby bombers, are now ageing and a different type of independence is now visible. They love the thought that someone comes to clean the house each week and the thought that someone would come and cook their meals is what many of them work for. However, to some elderly people, this creates the idea of not coping and not being of use in the family and society. Another question that we may need to ask ourselves is how forceful must we be. No-one wants to alienate themselves from parents and grandparents, but genuine concern and the need to be aware is very important.


Source: Expat Life Thailand

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