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Senior Care: Nutrition For Seniors Receiving Cancer Treatment

by Amy, February 17, 2017

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If you're a caregiver for an aging loved one who is receiving treatment for cancer in Palo Alto or the Bay Area, you may not be aware of the positive role you can play in his or her recovery.

Fighting cancer is tough not only for the patient, but for the entire family. It's physically and emotionally taxing on the patient, but nutrition is vital to recovery. Some claim that an alkaline or ketogenic diet is effective for "beating" cancer, but these claims are debatable.

As a caregiver, you probably know that radiation and chemotherapy take their toll on your loved one's appetite. Some have severe pain or irritation in an area close to the radiation site, such as the throat or mouth. Chemo can cause patients to lose their appetite because of the nausea and other gastrointestinal problems. What can you do to help?

First, keep a thorough record of the foods your loved one eats, how much they eat, and any changes in the diet. It's important to keep good records of nutrition, along with medications, in order for the doctor to have a clear picture of what is going on and if changes need to be made. If your loved one begins having diarrhea or constipation, don't resolve the issue by giving any medication unless the doctor advises you to do so.

Work with a registered dietician. An oncology dietician will work with your loved one to determine the best diet depending on not only the patient's food preferences, but the type of cancer your loved one has and method of treatment he or she is currently undergoing.

What can you do yourself to help in terms of ensuring your loved one eats as healthy a diet as possible?

If you prepare meals, consider those foods that are bland rather than spicy. Food that are soft are easier for cancer patients to chew and swallow as well.

Join your loved one for lunch or dinner. Those who are aging enjoy the company, and you can offer some encouragement while dining together.

Engage in a little exercise with the patient, whether it's a 10 minute walk around the block or a few minutes of Tai Chi. Exercise not only lifts mood and reduces stress, it also helps to increase appetite.

Include a lot of protein-rich foods when preparing meals. Beans, broccoli, eggs, oats, Greek yogurt, fish, lentils, quinoa, tuna and chicken are all high in protein, which helps with cellular regeneration. Most of these foods are soft and easy to chew/swallow as well.

Always wash hands thoroughly when preparing, cooking, and serving a meal as those with cancer have a compromised immune system so they're very susceptible to any infection caused by bacteria.

As a caregiver of an aging parent or loved one who's going through cancer, you can play an important role in terms of diet and nutrition - important when fighting any disease. At Care Indeed, we provide a wide range of senior care services to those in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and throughout the Bay Area. Give us a call today for all of your caregiving needs.