9 Nutrition Tips for a Senior During Cancer Treatment

Cancer remains one of the diseases most often to be confronted by people in what should be their Golden Years of life. Each and every day, seniors are diagnosed with different types of cancer which require treatment, including chemotherapy. When a senior is receiving cancer treatment in the form of chemotherapy, nutrition is a crucial issue. Unfortunately, at precisely the time when nutrition is a paramount concern, a person on chemotherapy oftentimes experiences negative effects on his or her appetite because of:

  • Nausea
  • Lessening or loss of sense of taste
  • Lessening or loss of sense of smell
  • Loss of energy
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

The bottom line is that a senior cancer patient may not be getting the nutrients or the calories needed to mount an effective battle against cancer.

According to Stewart Fleishman, M.D., Founding Director of Cancer Supportive Services at the Continuum Cancer Centers of New York “Eating is not an optional activity. It fuels the body during treatment and gives you the building blocks to repair.” Dr. Fleishman further advises that depending on the type and stage of the cancer, a senior may require as many as 8,000 calories a day.

There are nine nutritional tips for a senior cancer patient that we present to you in this article. This information is provided for the benefit of a senior battling cancer. It is also made available for caregivers who assist loved ones and other during cancer treatment.

  • Be wary of wavering weight
  • Make breakfast big
  • Spice up servings
  • Don’t avoid family meals
  • Color the plate
  • Blend it up
  • Limit unsavory smells
  • Eat snacks
  • Move about

Be Wary of Wavering Weight

Many cancer patients struggle to prevent weight loss. Dr. Fleishman mentions that some people do have the opposite problem. For example, some women with breast cancer may find themselves dealing with gaining weight. Chemotherapy for breast cancer reduces the levels of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help regulate weight in a woman’s body. As a consequence of cancer treatment, many women go through what some call a hyper-speed version of menopause. This includes hot flashes, stiff joints, and weight gain. Before diving further into the more common experience of cancer patients of weight loss, we wanted to make this point up front. Ultimately, a cancer patient or a caregiver needs to take notice of any fluctuation of 10 percent of more in the weight of a person receiving treatment.

Make Breakfast Big

Generally speaking, a person undergoing cancer treatment will be more inclined to eat earlier in the day. Taking advantage of this tendency is important when it comes to ensuring a senior cancer patient gets appropriate nutrition and calories. As a result, a wise course can be making breakfast a big meal – even the biggest meal of the day for a person in cancer treatment.

Consider including foods rich in fiber. This can be helpful in addressing constipation, which is a rather frequent side effect of chemotherapy.

Spice Up Servings

A person’s tastebuds can take something of a proverbial beating during cancer treatment. This particularly is true for a senior undergoing chemo. The net effect of this is that eating can become a less appealing experience.

The American Cancer Society suggests mixing things up with flavor combinations that vary from what you or a loved one typically enjoyed in the past. The American Cancer Society cancer safe spicing suggestions include:

  • Chili powder
  • Onion
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • Barbeque sauce

Don’t Avoid Family Meals

According to the American Cancer Society, a frequently overlooked side effect of diminished appetite among older people with cancer is a reluctance to participate in social events that center around food. This can make a cancer sufferer feel more isolated from friends and family. Social support is a vital piece of the cancer recovery puzzle, according to the American Cancer Society.

Researchers from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center found that women who had a strong social support network benefitted from a 40 percent reduction in their risk of relapse. In addition, participating in family meals is a helpful way of working towards proper nutrition and a suitable caloric intake during cancer treatment involving a senior.

Color the Plate

Dining on deep colored fruits and vegetables can supply a host of essential nutrients that can prove helpful in combating cancer. Fresh or frozen varieties are preferable to canned, when it comes to nutritional value and taste, according to the American Cancer Society.

Blend It Up

Making use a blender is another good strategy for a person undergoing cancer treatment to maintain good nutrition and a needed caloric intake. Foods that include home-made smoothies, soups. and stews can be good sources of sustenance for an older individual battling cancer. Aim to use healthy ingredients such as fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and low-fat milk. You may also want to consider adding protein powder or peanut butter for an extra protein boost.

Limit Unsavory

  1. Limit unsavory smells: A cooler dining area and cooler foods can cut down on smells that may be unappetizing to a senior undergoing chemotherapy, according to the ACS. Try to pick foods that don’t need to be cooked or heated.
  2. Use snacks to slip in calories: In between meals, encourage you loved one to nosh on fruit, yogurt, peanut butter, or even hard-boiled eggs. The key is to try to stick to nutritious, yet calorie dense foods.
  3. Get them moving: Cancer treatment can leave a loved one feeling drained and in pain, but even small amounts of physical activity can help by boosting both their appetite and mood. Other benefits of exercise can include: reduced nausea, greater self-esteem, lowered feelings of anxiety and improvements in strength and balance.