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10 Things to Ask When Visiting Parents in a Home

        Health | Elder Care

"What did you have for breakfast today?"

Our taste buds and tastes change as we age, as anyone who referred to mushrooms as "disgusting" at age 7 and fell in love with chanterelles at age 27 can attest. After the age of 50, our taste buds decrease. This, combined with the fact that taste and smell disorders affect about a third of Americans between the ages of 70 and 80, means that an enticing meal for a senior takes a certain kind of talent to prepare [source: NIDCD].

Medications affect appetite, dental problems can make it difficult to eat and restricted diets have all the appeal of a Dickensian orphanage. The long-term care cooking challenge should definitely make it onto "Top Chef," if it hasn't already.

If eating is no longer pleasurable, you can imagine that someone may skip a meal or two. But the danger of that is malnutrition, and with it goes the body's ability to fight off illness.

Do you notice a change in mom or dad's weight? If she or he isn't eating, find out why. Drop by during mealtimes. And, of course, bring snacks that tempt the palate (as long as the doctor doesn't mind).