Healthy meal prep can promote both enjoyment and health in the elderly. Favorite recipes can provide comfort, spark happy memories and bring people together. Holidays are often celebrated with a family meal. The memories surrounding those meals can often be some of the happiest times in ones life. Continue reading for tips on healthy meal prep for elderly.
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Sharing recipes from one generation to the next can be very rewarding. As a caregiver, you can get to know your client or loved one’s favorites and individual preferences. This will make mealtime more enjoyable and can truly enhance ones quality of life.
Healthy Meal Prep for Elderly
A great approach for a caregiver is to include the senior in their care in the meal planning process. Ask them to share some of their favorite recipes. For those who are still able, assisting in the preparation of those foods is also a delightful activity. Many seniors will enjoy sharing stories associated with the memories the foods bring back to them. This gives the caregiver an opportunity to get to know their client better, and what is important to them.
Seniors may have safety concerns in the kitchen
One thing to always be conscientious of is food safety. Make sure foods are always prepared and stored at the right temperature. Using a cooking thermometer is a good safety measure. I highly recommend getting different color cutting boards. That way meat can be cut on one, vegetables on another for example. This will help prevent food borne illnesses. Another safety risk especially for elderly with dementia is that they may forget that they have something cooking on the stove. Having an auto stove shut off can help prevent fires in the home.
Many seniors are content eating what they are familiar with. However you can also attempt to introduce some new recipes to keep things interesting. Consider buying a cookbook (such as the healthy seniors cookbook) or culinary magazine to work with. Pictures are important- we eat with our eyes first!
Presentation can also truly make a world of difference. Lots color variety and perhaps even garnishes, can up the enjoyment level of a meal by leaps and bounds. You can get creative with garnishes. For example colorful shaved beets which are edible of course and loaded with vitamins our bodies need.
Make an activity of reviewing the recipes and deciding on ones that your loved one or client may enjoy. The recipes if needed can be adapted to meet diet restrictions. Some may succeed, others might fail. Either way the activity itself will be fun for you and your client or loved one.
Seniors may have dietary restrictions
Caregivers do however, need to keep the senior’s medical needs in mind when cooking for them. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, for example may have special dietary restrictions. They can enjoy their favorite foods. However some adjustments may need to be made to them healthy and on track with their diets. Keeping a food journal can be helpful especially for those with diabetes.
My mother has both high blood pressure and diabetes. She LOVES her baked goods and sweets. As we get older our taste buds wane. Seniors with a sweet tooth are more likely to overindulge to satisfy their cravings. My mother’s doctor recommends that she stay away from food with added sugar completely. However she can swap out her cookies and cake for foods that are naturally sweet. Some options include fruit (perhaps with a dab of sugar free whipped topping), or consider sugar free alternatives like jello pudding.
Some seniors will need to watch their salt intake. There are also many ways that flavor can be added to food without upping the salt content. Spices such as garlic and ginger can significantly improve the taste of a recipe, while keeping the sodium level down.
Good nutrition is vital to the health and well-being of the elderly. Seniors do require fewer calories, yet require more protein, calcium, and other nutrients than they did in their younger years. Preventing malnutrition and taking important medical diet recommendations seriously, should be a primary goal of every caregiver. This effort can help avoid major health issues, such as a heart attack or stroke. It will also ensure that your client or loved one is happy and healthy!