Getting older often has a direct impact on appetite and nutrition. Foods just don't taste like they used to, arthritis makes meal preparation an achy
endeavor, and medical conditions and medications can impact appetite. Although meal planning and prep for seniors might feel challenging considering these factors, it can be done with little effort. And the best news is that intentional planning can help support a healthy, nourishing diet for your loved one.
Consider Nutritional Needs
Nutritional needs change as we age and depend on a variety of factors. Protein and nutrients like calcium, potassium, fiber, vitamin B12, and vitamin D are all important components of an older adult's diet. Choosing foods with a high-water content can help replace some fluids your loved one is missing out on from a reduced intake of liquids.
The best way to incorporate adequate nutrition into a meal plan is to choose a variety of whole, colorful foods on each menu. The USDA's MyPlate Kitchen website gives you hundreds of nutritious meal ideas and allows you to save recipes and create cookbooks from your favorites.
Keep Easy Foods on Hand
Having some easy foods like pre-sliced fruits and veggies, almonds, string cheese, Greek yogurt, and whole grain crackers on hand can ensure your loved one has options that nourish their body even when they don't feel like cooking. To limit the preparation time involved for you or them, look for pre-sliced options at the grocery store whenever possible.
Spend a Day Prepping
Taking a day every now and then to assemble freezer meals can make it easier for your parent, friend, or family member to get adequate nutrition on the days they don't feel like cooking. It's also a great way to support nutrition when preparation becomes more challenging due to advancing arthritis or declining memory; they'll simply empty a freezer bag into the crock pot and turn it on low. By evening, a flavorful meal will be ready to eat!
An added advantage of freezer meals is that there is little waste; you can prepare multiple meals at once, using up everything at once and reducing waste. You can load them with veggies without worrying about the short shelf-life of produce. They're cost- effective on a fixed income.
A meal plan should be a guide; the most successful meal plans allow for flexibility. If chicken is on the menu Monday but they're craving Tuesday's salmon, the trade should be easy to make. Tell your loved one the meal plan is theirs to be used as a guide for the week, but they can move things around to suit their cravings, the weather (cold dinner on a hot day!), their energy level, and more.
For more on home care or a little assistance at home when you need it most, visit the compassionate team at Helping Hearts at Home today.