As people age, they find simple tasks now becoming harder to accomplish, and eating meals in one of them. Because of their slowing metabolisms as they age, seniors often tend to eat less. Changing tastes (or the loss of them) and dietary restrictions are other challenges that prevent them from eating a balanced, healthy diet.
Mealtimes can also become lonely for seniors who no longer have a significant other to dine and converse with. Seniors who live alone or lack local support have more difficulty in taking their meals, and this adds to the complexity for them to get the nutrition they need to stay healthy.
Cooking may be one of your senior loved one’s passions, and they may have used to do it a lot when they were younger. But if you notice that your senior becomes unwilling to cook or shop for their nutritious meals, it can change their eating habits and eventually take a toll on their health.
The following are some suggestions that caregivers can share with their elderly patients or parents, as well as several tools that can make meal preparations easier.
The team at Kerr Medical offers a three-step approach to meal prep:
1) Sit down on a Sunday and plan out a meal for your seniors for the entire week.
2) Write down the menu for the week and put it in a place where your senior parent or patient can have easy access to it. Planning ahead of time will make it less burdensome or overwhelming for the seniors whether they will be the ones to cook or not.
3) Incorporate favorite foods and ingredients into your weekly meal plan. Your seniors are likely to eat what they enjoy.
4) Search for new recipes that will appeal to their taste buds and try adding a new (but still healthy) twist to their favorite dishes. If mashed potatoes are a favorite, then try adding healthy but tasty ingredients such a cauliflower, carrots, or broccoli.
5) Make sure to incorporate variety into your weekly meal. Include various foods and ingredients and be creative in creating dishes from leftovers. For example, baked chicken breasts from yesterday can be made into soft chicken tacos or pasta with chicken later in the week.
1) After writing down your plan, go to the grocery store to buy everything you need for that period. This will prevent you from making frequent trips to the grocery store during a busy work week.
2) Think about preparing a few meals such as soups or stews that will last in the fridge for the week and can be reheated. You can par-cook vegetables, freeze them, and then thaw and cook them quickly when ready. This reduces the cooking time.
3) Make the meal a team effort or group project. Help the seniors out with the ingredient prep to save time. You or your seniors can wash and chop vegetables, then store them in bottles or containers for use during the week.
4) Purchase prepped foods for ease and convenience, but make sure that they are healthy, too. Examples are bagged salad kits, which your seniors can easily scoop out portions and toss them with pre-measured dressings and toppings.
1) Encourage your seniors to share their meals with family or friends during breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or even afternoon tea times.
2) For seniors living alone, try to schedule meals to accompany an activity such as reading a book or newspaper, or watching favorite shows on the TV.
3) Suggest your senior write a short “review” or make comments about a meal – whether it is good or not, or what are their likes or dislikes about it. Making conversations like these will encourage engagement with the food and will become handy for adjusting meal plans.
Cooking and eating aids with Kerr Medical
Kerr Medical offers products that seniors can use as they prepare and eat meals:
1) Reachers – This aluminum and stainless steel reacher give seniors the ability to reach and pick up ingredients such as canned goods, cooking sprays, and other meal prep items.
2) Easy Opener – Due to arthritis or other joint pains, your seniors may not be able to open some food items, even with using a regular opener. This “Easy Opener” helps in opening bottles, pull tabs, and even those impossible box tops.
3) Scooper Bowl with suction – The bowls stay in place during mealtime and has a high rim and curved side to make scooping the food out easier.
4) A variety of eating utensils ensures that your senior can grasp tools and silverware without difficulty and pain.
If you are looking for prepping and eating aids, contact the Kerr Medical team. Our mission is helping you as a caregiver and your senior loved ones have a better quality of life.