Proper nutrition is essential at any age, and older adults are no exception. In addition to meeting their basic dietary needs, good food is also a source of happiness and comfort for many seniors. But persnickety taste buds, poor dental health, and chronic medical conditions can all keep the average senior from eating as they should. If there’s a finicky older eater in your life, here’s how to do proper senior meal planning filled with nutritious foods without spending a big fortune.
Older Adults Have Unique Dietary Needs
The nutritional needs of older adults differ from those of younger eaters. Chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease often require seniors to be extra careful about what, when, and how much they eat.
Finding ways to tweak an elderly loved one’s diet isn’t easy. For instance, adding more salt to their food to compensate for taste and smell changes could raise their blood pressure. Instead of oversalting their food, substitute healthier seasonings such as fresh or dried herbs and spices.
When eating habits are affected by depression and loneliness, joining your loved one over a nice, relaxing dinner may help them rediscover their appetite. If it’s hard for them to chew food, a cavity, missing tooth, or ill-fitting dentures could be the issue. Offer to take them to the dentist so the problem can get resolved.
Whatever the case may be, the first step is to determine what is keeping your senior from eating a well-balanced diet and then address the source.
Creative Meal Ideas for Caregivers
As their informal caregiver and de facto personal chef, here’s how to perk up your senior’s plate throughout the day with nutritious, tastebud-tantalizing foods:
Oatmeal is one of the easiest, most versatile breakfasts you can make, while the overnight preparation method simplifies things even further. Combine one part of rolled oats with two parts of low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, or almond milk, and then let the mixture percolate in the fridge overnight. Next morning, add flavorful, nutrient-enriched ingredients like sliced bananas, cinnamon, peanut butter, or freshly chopped frozen berries.
As an excellent source of protein and lutein, eggs allow you much creative freedom. Serve your senior scrambled eggs with a handful of steamed veggies, or turn some eggs into a baked frittata garnished with fresh vegetables.
As an easy-to-prepare lunch, soups can easily be tailored to a senior’s dietary needs, along with any swallowing or chewing difficulties they might have. Softened cooked veggies, chopped lean meats or fish, and healthy herbs and spices can all be used to create a nutritious and delicious soup for your loved one. If necessary, you can even puree their soup in a blender before serving.
When preparing a quick, nutritious plate for your elderly dinner guest, be sure to include one lean protein, one cup of fresh veggies or fruit, and one portion of whole grains. Ideal sources of protein include lean beef, chicken, or salmon. With a little culinary imagination, tofu or beans can be used as substitutes.
Grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or quinoa are healthy for most aging adults. Be sure to rotate your veggies so your loved one gets a complete balance of vitamins and minerals. Although steaming or boiling vegetables is the quickest way to prepare them, they can taste a little bland. Liven up the flavor by adding melted butter or a dash of lemon juice.
When your senior gets hungry between meals, try serving them these nutritious snacks:
- Nuts and seeds
- Greek yogurt with fresh berries
- Celery with all-natural peanut butter
- Fresh chopped veggies with hummus
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Protein smoothie
In-Home Dietary Support for Seniors in Charlotte County, FL
Getting aging loved ones to eat a well-balanced diet can be frustrating, especially when you’re busy or live far away. Put your mind at ease by contacting the caring professionals from Home Instead® Senior Care. Conveniently available in Naples, Fort Myers, and Charlotte County, FL, our senior care services help to enhance the aging experience by providing practical support at home delivered with a human touch.
Our reliable in-home solutions help aging adults stay engaged in everyday life with tailor-made support to stay safe and well at home. At Home Instead, it is always our mission to provide a care plan personalized to your family’s needs – bringing you all comfort, companionship, and peace of mind. To learn more or schedule a time to talk with one of our home care specialists, please visit us at www.homeinsteadswfl.com.