Most of us are eager to sit down and indulge in a delectable meal – the comforting smells and tastes, the gratifying sensation of a filled stomach. For a number of older people, though, a variety of health challenges can prevent their enjoyment of meals or even their ability to shop for nutritious foods, in many instances leading to malnutrition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. offers several remedies to some of the most common senior nutrition troubles, including:
Trouble with chewing: For older individuals who have difficulty with chewing food well, meats and fresh vegetables and even fruits can cause a challenge. The FDA proposes the following substitutes:
- Rather than fresh fruit, try fruit juice, applesauce, or canned peaches and pears.
- Instead of raw veggies, try vegetable juices or mashed and cooked vegetables.
- In place of large pieces of meat, try ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products.
- Instead of sliced bread, try cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding and soft cookies.
Gastrointestinal upset: Excessive gas, acid reflux, and other GI issues may cause older adults to pass up foods they think may possibly cause a problem. Because of this, they might be missing out on crucial nutrients, such as vitamins, calcium, fiber, and protein. The FDA suggests:
- Instead of drinking milk, try different dairy foods that might not upset the stomach, such as cream soups, pudding, yogurt, or cheese.
- Try vegetable juices, carrots and potatoes, which are easier to digest, in place of vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli.
- Exchange fresh fruit with soft canned fruits or fruit juice.
Shopping problems: Many seniors who can no longer drive or who experience other mobility problems have difficulty shopping for themselves. When the inability to shop for groceries becomes a nutrition obstacle, the FDA suggests:
- Checking with a local grocery store or market to see if they can deliver groceries to the house.
- Asking for volunteer shopping help from a local church, synagogue or volunteer center.
- Bringing in the help of a family member or neighbor.
- Partnering with a local home care agency, such as All Care In-Home Care Solutions, for grocery shopping assistance.
Inability to cook: Challenges with cooking food can stem from cognitive concerns such as Alzheimer’s disease, difficulty with holding cooking utensils or with standing upright for extended periods of time. If the inability to cook is a complication:
- Try making use of a microwave to warm up frozen dinners and other frozen foods or meals that are prepackaged at the store.
- Request cooking assistance from a home care agency, like All Care In-Home Care Solutions, whose care providers can plan and prepare nutritious meals in the older person’s home.
Appetite loss: Older adults who live independently can feel lonesome at mealtimes, which can result in loss of appetite. They may also not feel up to cooking a meal for simply themselves, or medicines that they take may be impacting how the food tastes. For concerns such as these, the FDA advises:
- Eating meals with family and friends if possible.
- Taking part in group meal programs provided through local senior centers.
- Speaking to the physician about whether or not medication could be causing a problem.
- Contacting a local home care agency, such as All Care In-Home Care Solutions, for a companion to both prepare meals and make meal time a sociable time.
Good nutrition is very important, regardless of age. If your senior loved one is struggling to overcome age-related nutrition barriers, contact the Medford senior care team of experts at All Care In-Home Care Solutions. We can plan and prepare appetizing, healthy meals and help improve your loved one’s nutrition. Call us at (541) 857-9195 to learn more about our home care services.