Together We Can -- Newsletter of the Joan Karnell Cancer Center

Summer 2002

With Age, Comes Strength
Nutrition in the Senior Years
Taking Care of Others
Walking Towards Better Health
Suddenly a Senior
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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:

Decreased appetite

  • 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 cancer-fighting properties.
  • 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
    and cauliflower).
  • Vary the food textures on your plate with both crunchy and smooth foods.

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.


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

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