September 11, 2023
It’s hard to beat the feeling of a good meal for most of us – savory tastes, amazing smells, and the comforting feeling of a full stomach. As we grow older, though, complications from aging can make it more difficult to enjoy meals or even shop for nourishing foods, which can lead to a decline in senior nutritional health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has several solutions to some of the most common elderly nutrition concerns, such as:
Problems with chewing: Older adults who have problems with chewing struggle with eating foods like fresh fruits, meat, and vegetables. The FDA suggests the following substitutions:
- Replace fresh fruit with canned fruit, fruit juice, or applesauce.
- Bread pudding, soft cookies, rice, or cooked cereals can be a great substitute for sliced bread.
- Instead of large cuts of meat, try ground meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, and other dairy products.
- Instead of raw veggies, consider vegetable juices or cooked or mashed veggies.
GI problems: Digestive issues like acid reflux or excessive gas can make older adults avoid certain foods they assume may be causing the issues. Due to this, they might be passing up on critical nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, protein, and calcium. The FDA advises:
- Try yogurt, pudding, cream soups, and other sources of dairy that aren’t milk.
- Try vegetable juices, carrots and potatoes, which are easier to digest, in the place of vegetables like cabbage or broccoli.
- Exchange fresh fruit with soft canned fruits or fruit juice.
Struggles with shopping: Some older adults are no longer able to drive or have experienced mobility issues that make shopping for themselves a struggle. When the inability to shop for groceries becomes a senior nutrition hurdle, the FDA recommends:
- Getting assistance from a friend or family member.
- Partnering with a professional senior care company, such as Continuum, for grocery shopping assistance.
- Taking advantage of a local grocery delivery service.
- Requesting volunteer shopping assistance from a nearby church, synagogue or volunteer center.
Difficulties cooking: A decline in senior nutritional health can come from issues that make it difficult to stand while making a meal or handling kitchen utensils. If inability to cook is a problem:
- Use a microwave to cook frozen dinners as well as other frozen foods or meals that are prepackaged at the store.
- Ask for help from a local program like Meals on Wheels. If you are unsure of local meal preparation options for seniors, contact us for recommendations.
Loss of appetite: Older individuals who live alone can feel lonesome at mealtimes, which can lead to decreased appetite. They might also not feel like preparing a meal for just themselves, or medications they take could be affecting the way the food tastes. For issues such as these, the FDA suggests:
- Engaging in group meal programs provided through local senior centers.
- Sharing meals with loved ones.
- Talking to the physician about whether or not medication could be causing a problem.
- Contacting a nearby home care agency, like Continuum, for a companion to both prepare meals and make mealtime more social.
No matter the age, maintaining good nutrition is vital. If a senior family member is struggling to conquer age-related nutritional obstacles, the home care team at Continuum can help. We can provide tips and community connections to improve senior nutrition and avoid a decline in senior nutritional health.