For many of us, there’s nothing better than a good meal – the wonderful smells, delectable tastes, and warm feeling of a full belly. That’s not the case for many older adults, though. A variety of health concerns can impact their enjoyment of meals or even their ability to shop for nutritious foods, which can contribute to malnutrition in many cases. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has several solutions to some of the most prevalent senior nutrition concerns, such as:
Indigestion: Acid reflux, excessive gas, and many other GI complications could potentially cause older adults to avoid foods they think may possibly cause a problem. This may lead to a deficit of essential nutrients, like fiber, protein, vitamins, and calcium. The FDA suggests:
- Exchange fresh fruit with soft canned fruits or fruit juice.
- Try vegetable juices, carrots and potatoes, which are easier to digest, in the place of vegetables like cabbage or broccoli.
- Try dairy foods other than milk that may not upset the stomach, such as cheese, cream soups, pudding, or yogurt.
Trouble with chewing: Meats, fruits, and fresh vegetables can cause issues for older people who struggle to chew their food. The FDA recommends the following replacements:
- As a substitute to raw veggies, choose vegetable juices or cooked or mashed veggies.
- Rather than large cuts of meat, try ground meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, and other dairy products.
- Rather than sliced bread, choose bread pudding, rice, soft cookies, or cooked cereals.
- In place of fresh fruit, try canned peaches and pears, fruit juice, or applesauce.
Problems with preparing meals: The changes that come with dementia or mobility problems can make it difficult to handle cooking utensils or stand for long periods of time to cook. If inability to cook is a complication:
- Request help from a local program such as Meals on Wheels. If you are unsure of local meal preparation options for seniors, contact us for suggestions.
- Try using a microwave to warm up frozen dinners as well as other frozen foods or meals that are prepackaged at the store.
Shopping struggles: As older adults age, mobility complications or not being able to drive can make shopping for themselves a challenge. When the inability to shop for groceries becomes a senior nutrition hurdle, the FDA suggests:
- Enlisting the help of a family member or friend.
- Requesting volunteer shopping assistance from a nearby church, synagogue or volunteer center.
- Partnering with a professional senior care company, such as Dakota Home Care, for grocery shopping assistance.
- Utilizing a grocery delivery service.
Loss of appetite: Older individuals who live alone can feel lonesome at mealtimes, which can lead to diminished appetite. They might also not feel like preparing a meal for just themselves, or medications they are taking could be impacting the way the food tastes. For concerns such as these, the FDA suggests:
- Talking to the physician about whether or not medication could be causing a problem.
- Eating meals with loved ones whenever possible.
- Contacting a local home care agency, like Dakota Home Care, for a companion to both prepare meals and make mealtimes more social.
- Engaging in group meal programs provided through local senior centers.
Optimal nutrition is vital for anyone of any age. If a senior family member is struggling to overcome age-related nutrition barriers, contact the home care team at Dakota Home Care. We can provide tips and community connections to improve senior nutrition. Reach out to us online or at (877) 691-0015 for more information on our senior care services in Bismark, Fargo, Lincoln, Mandan, and the surrounding areas.