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If only we had Lucy’s Vitavetavegamin

Now that we've all trained ourselves to take supplements during middle age, (haven't we?) we have to work out supplements for our elderly loved ones. Do they remember to take their vitamins now that they're 90? Not likely. Will a doctor prescribe them? Not likely. What to do? Most retirement homes have nutritionists on staff, but they cannot write prescriptions. They can, however, write suggestions for supplements, which the main caregiver or Power of Attorney can request from the doctor in charge. It seems strange to submit a supplement request to a medical doctor, but that's the way the system works. (By the way, depending upon your mom and dad's level of medications, they will need a written prescription that allows them to have a glass of wine with dinner, too.)


Are you worried that your parents have stashed 82 cans of Campbell 's chicken noodle soup in the cupboard, but have no green vegetables, no fresh meat, and no fruits? This is one case when concern is warranted, because as we age, our bodies' ability to synthesize and digest nutrients slows and sometimes stops altogether, sometimes due to a disease process and sometimes due to aging DNA.


If your loved one needs Vitamin E or C, which sometimes comes in horse pill size, you can buy a pill crusher, crush up the vitamin (or in the case of E, open it and pour it) onto applesauce. Applesauce is a great way to serve supplements (and medications). Puddings are good, too. Ensure has a lot of vitamins, but it also has milk protein, and if your loved one is lactose intolerant or allergic to milk, you'll have to find another supplement. (When will the Ensure manufacturers come up with a lactose free product?)


Eat with your loved one. It can make mealtime more fun and interesting.   If you talk the meal up a little or bring up a memory you can both relate to such as how it reminds you of the time you had that birthday picnic out at the lake, meals can be a lot more enjoyable.   Keep food interesting and varied, and keep the channels of communication open between the kitchen staff, assisted living, or the caregiver if your loved one is still at home. Bon appetit!


by Terry Cox-Joseph

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