If you care for an aging parent or loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer, you have most likely come across a common symptom of chemotherapy and radiation: lack of appetite. Many seniors undergoing cancer treatment find that they don’t feel hungry or suffer from nausea and stomach pains so severe, they do not want to eat. Family caregivers often end up preparing meals that their loved one barely eats, and in some situations, refuse.
However, nutrition is a major component of cancer treatment. It is important for cancer patients to continue to eat the right foods, especially before and after treatments, to enhance strength, mood and overall wellbeing. At Home Care Assistance of Milwaukee, we understand how challenging and overwhelming monitoring the diet of a cancer patient is. As a result, we would like to share the following tips that our caregivers have found to be successful in helping seniors maintain their calorie, protein and fluid intake during cancer treatments:
– If your loved one feels full after a few bites, portion out meals and have them eat small amounts throughout the day. Spreading meals out is often more successful than simply having breakfast, lunch and dinner.
– If your loved one never feels hungry, consider scheduling meal times throughout the day. It may be easier to eat after they become accustomed to a schedule as opposed to relying on their own appetite.
– Encourage your loved one to eat more when they do feel hungry. While you can have guidelines in place, your loved one should take advantage of the times when they feel their best and able to eat more.
– Limit fluids during meals. Sometimes liquids may fill your loved one up and limit their intake of nutritious and high calorie foods. Instead, recommend drinking liquids at least a half hour before or after meals.
Family caregivers in Milwaukee should also pay attention to any foods that negatively affect the appetite of your elderly loved one. For example, the smells of certain foods may decrease your loved one’s appetite or bring on nausea. Other small ways to ensure your loved one gets the proper amounts of nutrition during cancer treatments is to make the dining experience more enjoyable. For example, make meals more appealing by using foods with a variety of colors and textures and take the time to sit down and enjoy the meal with your loved one.
Also keep in mind that your loved one’s doctor is a wealth of information. They will be able to offer dietary guidelines and if there are persistent issues that occur during mealtimes, will be able to address them more specifically.
For family caregivers in search of respite or need help caring for their elderly loved one, contact Home Care Assistance. We specialize in cancer care and recovery in Milwaukee, offering a range of care services designed to assist seniors with cancer. From help with household tasks and meal preparation to medication reminders and transportation, our caregivers offer reliable and expert assistance to increase the comfort and safety of your loved one. To learn more about our hourly or live-in cancer care plans or to schedule a free in-home consultation, contact a Care Manager at 414-964-8000.