Nutrition in the Senior Years
Changes that commonly occur during the natural
aging process are only complicated by cancer
treatment. Nutritional status can diminish if
ability to eat is compromised. If you have observed
some of the following changes in yourself or
a loved one, here are some strategies to prevent
a decrease in nutritional status:
- Eat small meals more often.
- Make every bit count by consuming high calorie, high protein foods
such as cottage cheese and fruit or peanut butter and crackers.
- Try the varieties of liquid nutritional supplements such as Carnation
Instant Breakfast, Boost or Ensure or make your own milkshakes.
Loss of taste and smell
- Season food with herbs. Garlic, chives, basil,
thyme, curry, rosemary and lemon may all have
- We begin to eat with our eyes so be sure you have a variety of
colors of food on your plate (example: meatloaf with mashed potatoes
and carrots vs. fish, mashed potatoes
- Vary the food textures on your plate with both crunchy and smooth
Difficulty eating because of teeth or poorly fitting dentures
- Keep food soft and moist. Examples are meatloaf
with gravy, casseroles, eggs, cheese, soft
fruits and soft cooked vegetables.
- Have applesauce as a side dish to assist with swallowing.
- Drink a beverage with your meals.
- If you have dentures and have had a recent weight change, it may
be time to visit the dentist.
- Investigate community meals such as the
local seniors center.
- When eating alone, still be sure to use a nice plate and make
the table look special with a tablecloth or flowers.
- Look for Early Bird Specials in your neighborhood and eat out
with a friend.
Physical activity is especially important to help maintain energy
level and overall fitness. Mild exercise will:
- Aid in digestion
- Stimulate appetite
- Help maintain muscle mass, which normally declines with age
- Help prevent unwanted pounds
- Help keep bowels regular
- Improve mood
- Keep bones from becoming brittle
Nutrition consultations are available to all individuals with cancer
who receive care at Pennsylvania Hospital. If
you would like to make an appointment, please
call 1-800-789-PENN (7366) or you can also request
an appointment online.