• Jul 17, 2018
  • by Jenneke van Hemert

Being a caregiver to a senior often leads to stress and may also weaken physical health. It also increases financial responsibility and pressure. Many caregivers report feeling tired, worried, anxious, overwhelmed, or isolated. Specifically, meal preparation, cleaning and lack of support are the leading causes of stress among caregivers of seniors.

In 2009, it was reported that 34% of Canadians aged 65 or older are at nutrition risk. This emphasizes the need to better support family care givers to provide nutrition care to senior parents.

Why isn’t it obvious?

Many seniors experience poor nutrition and don’t realize it. Poor appetite, weight loss and weakness are often thought of as normal signs of aging. Although common, these signs should not be viewed as normal: these signs could be indicators of an underlying cause such as difficulty swallowing, chewing, taste changes or loss of interest in cooking. Shame, or fear for loss of independence, may result in your parent not telling you that they need help. Not getting enough nutrients, or not enough of the right kind of nutrients, can result in decreased immunity, worsening of existing health issues, or development of new health issues.

What are some signs to look for?

  • Poor appetite leading to decreased protein intake, causing loss of muscles and strength, decreased immunity and increased risk of falls
  • Decreased ability to swallow or chew, leading to relying solely on soft foods that have little nutritional value such as tea and toast, cereal, muffins, cookies, puddings, banana’s and apple sauce.
  • Loss of interest in preparing meals due to being widowed, living in isolation, or not being able to buy food.

Most seniors want to live at home for as long as possible, but increased nutrition care needs can make meal time very stressful. Poor appetite and loss of weight are not necessarily normal signs of aging. To assure that the parent is getting enough nutrients to stay healthy, a qualified health professional such as a registered dietitian should be consulted.


Here are some resources that can help you to relieve stress:

  1. Go to Dietitians of Canada website and find a dietitian that specializes in senior nutrition care. The dietitian will assess nutrient needs and you can receive assistance for your parent.
  2. Use http://seniors101.ca/, or use your Senior Services Guide (The Blue Book) to find a service that provides nutrition support and dietitian assistance.
  3. Increase access to cost-effective, nutritious foods. Contact your local community center for local meal programs, cooking workshops and food box programs.


Therapeutic Meals provides a nutrition service that includes delicious chef prepared heat-to- serve meals, combined with the expertise of a dietitian to adapt those meals to the specific needs of your parent.


This article was first posted at http://islandwoman.ca/take-a-bite-out-of-care-giver-stress/#more-13612 authored by Jenneke van Hemert, RD