Common Eating Problems in the Elderly

Seniors have unique challenges when it comes to nutrition, and sometimes their issues can extend to the act of eating itself. It’s easy to grow accustomed to chewing and swallowing, eating tasty foods, and relaxing over a good meal—but for some seniors and others affected with eating issues, getting adequate nutrition can be a challenge. Here’s a look at some common eating problems seniors face.

Chewing and Swallowing

There are many reasons an older adult may have trouble with the physical act of chewing and swallowing. The medical term for this is dysphagia, and researchers estimate that up 15 percent of seniors are affected by this condition. Symptoms of dysphagia include:

  • Coughing while eating or drinking
  • Frequently choking on foods and liquids
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Drooling
  • A gurgly voice, indicating foods aren’t being fully swallowed

There are many potential causes of dysphagia, including dental problems, acid reflux, stroke, and other conditions. Doctors can treat dysphagia with some medicines or surgery, and some patients learn to live with the condition by adopting a special liquid diet or utilizing a feeding tube in cases of severe dysphagia.

Little or No Appetite

For many seniors, not being able to taste foods leads to a loss of appetite and poor nutrition. Aging dulls the tastebuds, plus many common medications can affect our perception of flavors. Experts recommend adding herbs, spices, and seasoning to foods to enhance flavor and make meals more appealing. Smaller plates and bright colors can also make food more exciting and entice seniors to eat more.

If adding more flavor doesn’t work, you can try serving smaller meals more frequently. Instead of three meals per day, try five to six smaller meals and see if that improves your senior’s appetite.

Coordination & Stamina

Some seniors have trouble using forks and spoons with the same skill they did when they were younger. Caregivers can serve seniors finger food or consider pureed foods that can be consumed through a straw.


Risk of malnourishment isn’t the only concern for seniors with eating issues. Seniors and their caregivers should be vigilant against dehydration. Dehydration is one of the first signs of eating problems and can manifest through several symptoms, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Decreased urine output
  • Urine is low volume and more yellowish than normal
  • Headache
  • Dry skin
  • Dizziness

Addressing dehydration can be simple: Supplement seniors’ diets with extra soup broth, and make sure they’re taking water with every meal. Severe dehydration can be treated by administering electrolytes and carbohydrates, and in some cases, doctors will deliver these treatments intravenously.

A lack of eating leads to a number of poor health outcomes and unnecessary complications. Ensure the quality of your senior’s life by making sure you’re aware of the most common eating issues seniors face.

The Best Apps for Caregivers

Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store together have more than 5.5 million apps that you can download today. Let’s take a look at four apps we think are essentials for caregivers and their families. These apps will help get organized, communicate easily, and keep track of important reminders for appointments and medication.

Google or Outlook Calendar for Easy Planning with Family

Online calendars make it easy to track of doctor’s visits and other important appointments. Our smartphones, tablets, and computers come with calendar software pre-installed, but their true power lies in the ability to share and connect these calendars. Services like Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar are free to join, and sharing is easy. Just add your family or friend’s email addresses, and you’ll be able to see each other’s calendar.

As a bonus, the calendars come with a suite of other productivity apps, including the powerful notetaking apps Google Keep and Microsoft’s OneNote. These note apps can be shared, just like their calendar counterparts, making it easy to stay up to date with your family and friends.

Symple – A Smart Symptom Tracker

Many seniors are juggling multiple health conditions at once. To help make sense of day-to-day health and wellbeing, seniors need an easy way to track their symptoms. That’s where Symple comes in. The app is available in the Apple App Store for iPads and iPhones. The intuitive user interface makes it easy to track things like joint pain, headaches, sleep patterns, nutrition, and other important markers of health. Journaling in this way can make it easier to get a deeper understanding of the health issues your loved one is facing. Plus, with detailed symptom tracking, you’ll be able to share important information with your doctor.

CaringBridge for Communication

CaringBridge offers a convenient way to share your health journey with the ones you care about. The goal is to reduce stress by connecting you the caregiver to resources in your social network. Users can set up personalized websites and mobile apps that serve as a one-stop spot for sharing news and updates, sending private messages, and coordinating help and support among friends and family.

Medisafe for Smart Medication Tracking

Medisafe is one of the leading apps designed to help you accurately keep track of medications. The app can send you individual reminders for each medication you or your loved one is taking. Medisafe also has your safety in mind—the app is connected to an extensive medication database and continuously checks for drug interaction warnings. You can also link your account to others, so you can get the same timely reminders your loved one sees.

EasyCall is proud to be your technology partner. With help at the push of a button, EasyCall is always there with round-the-clock protection for you and your loved ones.

Four Ways the California Department of Aging Supports Seniors

The California Department of Aging is dedicated to providing high-quality services for older adults, adults with disabilities, family caregivers, and residents in long-term care facilities.  You might know the CDA through its locally-based programs, such as the Area 1 Agency on Aging. Beyond area agencies, the CDA provides a number of home and community services, ombudsman services, Medicare counseling, legal services, nutrition and exercise programs, and support for family caregivers.

In Humboldt County, the Area 1 Agency on Aging is just one of the department’s agencies providing services for seniors. As a funding, planning, and administrative agency, they’re responsible for overseeing many of the programs available to seniors. Here’s an overview of just some of the services.

Ombudsman Services

Located in Eureka, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman helps residents of care facilities manage issues related to their care. These issues can include the quality of care, nutritional concerns, incidents of abuse or neglect, and more. Ombudsmen are volunteers, and seniors can access their services for free. To learn more about these services in Humboldt County, contact the LTC Ombudsman Program at 707-269-1330.

Legal Advice and More

Seniors with legal concerns should contact the Legal Services of Northern California – Redwood Region. The program is open to anyone over the age of 60, regardless of income. Seniors can get free legal advice for a wide range of issues, including housing, elder abuse, Medicare, social security, consumer fraud, and much more. Learn more at

Home-Based Services

Seniors who live with health conditions can get help with a range of issues from California’s Community Based Adult Services. Locally, seniors can turn to the Adult Day Health and Alzheimer’s Services at the Humboldt Senior Resource Center or the Adult Day Health Care of Mad River located at 3800 Janes Rd. in Arcata.

Help With Rides, Nutrition, and More

Finally, the state’s Multipurpose Senior Services Programs deliver a host of services to seniors aged 65 and older. Participants must be eligible for Medi-Cal under a qualifying primary Medi-Cal aid code and be certified or certifiable for placement in a skilled nursing facility. Services include care management, transportation, meal programs, respite service, and more. Participants will work with a team of health and social service professionals to determine the best care plan. In Humboldt County, the Multipurpose Senior Services Program is administered by the Humboldt Senior Resource Center.

Whether you need legal services or a ride to a doctor’s appointment, the services provided by the California Department of Aging are there to support you and the seniors in your life. You can learn more at

Don’t Ignore the ‘Beep’ – It May Be Time for a New CO Detector

If you installed a carbon monoxide detector when California made it state law, it might be time to get a new one.

The California Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act requires most new homes be built with a carbon monoxide detection. The legislation is designed to save lives, but it only works when carbon monoxide detectors are working correctly.

Since the law passed in 2011, many of the standard carbon monoxide detectors have reached their end-of-life. All carbon monoxide detectors are required to alert you with an end-of-life signal; in most cases, you’ll hear a beep at regular intervals.

When you hear this beep, it’s time to replace your carbon monoxide alarm. Changing the battery isn’t enough—it’s time for a new device.

The good news is that if your carbon monoxide detector was installed by a fire alarm provider like Advanced Security Systems, you don’t have to waste time hunting down the “beep.”

“What’s great about the carbon monoxide detectors we install is that our customers will get a call from our dispatch center alerting them that their detector has reached its end-of-life,” says Ian Schatz, Operations Manager for Advanced Security Systems. “It takes the guesswork out of it.”

Customers also benefit from the longer lifespans of professionally installed carbon monoxide detectors. The CO detectors from Advanced Security Systems are rated to last ten years—considerably longer than store-bought detectors, which are rated for 3- and 7-year life spans.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, produced any time fossil fuels are burned. Carbon monoxide poisoning contributes to more than 400 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits each year according to the Centers for Disease Control.

To learn more about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Four Ways to Prevent Falls

Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization for seniors. Not only that falls are the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly according to researchers.

As caregivers, the important thing we can do to help our loved ones is preventing falls. These simple tips can make a big difference and help your loved one live a safe and secure life.

De-clutter Your Home and Make Repairs

Your home is full of tripping hazards, and neglected repairs can often lead to unnecessary risks. Cracked driveways and sidewalks, loose rugs, and slippery front steps can all be causes of falls. When you’re visiting with your loved ones, be sure to take a mental inventory of potential fall risks and make a plan to address each issue.

Check Your Sight and Hearing Often

Being aware of our surroundings helps keep us safe and out of danger. As we age, however, we’re faced with the fact that our senses just don’t work like they used to. That’s why it’s critical to stay current on doctor’s visits for your loved ones. Current glasses prescriptions and assistive hearing devices can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding falls.

Watch for Side Effects from Some Medications

Some prescription medications and even over-the-counter drugs can cause dizziness and loss of balance. It’s also possible that drugs that would normally be fine on their own will interact with other drugs, leading to a loss of balance.

Since many seniors are working with teams of doctors, it’s important that to share information about any medications or supplements they may be on with all the health professionals they work with.

Get Fit to Stay On Your Feet

Boosting the strength in gluteal, leg, and core muscles can help maintain balance in seniors. Simple weight lifting exercises or activities like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong are all effective ways to strengthen key muscle groups.

With these tips, you’ll be able to help the senior in your life to stay safe and avoid falls.