We experience physiological changes as we grow older, such as muscle loss, brittle bones, and less stomach acid. Because of this, nutritional needs also change — the NIH discusses important nutrients that those above 51 years old should ideally consume in a day to age healthily, which include calcium and potassium. However, nutrients are just one factor when preparing food for your elderly loved ones. Below are a few more things to take into account:
Having existing health conditions means you’ll need to pay more attention to your senior’s nutrition since they may have additional dietary restrictions and requirements. For instance, red meat contains protein, which is essential for building muscles. But those with hypertension should limit their red meat intake, especially processed red meat — the general rule is that the redder the meat is, the more likely it is to increase blood pressure.
However, other kinds of meat may also pose a risk depending on how you prepare them. For one, meat that’s been charred or exposed to high temperatures has chemicals that can increase blood pressure too. If your loved one has health conditions and you’re not sure how they will affect their diet, it’s best to consult a nutritionist. Karen Kopan assures how asking for support is always a good idea, particularly in physically and emotionally tasking circumstances such as caring for loved ones.
As someone who’ll be preparing the food, you should also take your own circumstances into account. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, you can invest in countertop kitchen tools that make food preparation easy. Today’s feature on kitchen appliances suggests a multi-cooker that can steam, roast, and bake anything with just the push of a button. A food processor is another great appliance to have since it can easily shred or slice ingredients instead of having to use a knife manually. You also use it to make soups or fruit smoothies.
If you find that you don’t have time or energy to spare for food planning and preparation, you can consider meal delivery services that cater specifically to seniors. SymptomFind lists some meal delivery services that aim to provide seniors with nutritious meals. Freshly offers senior-friendly menus, such as foods that are gluten-free and dairy-free. You can order 4-12 meals a week and choose from at least 30 items on a rotating menu.
Realistically, not everything you put on the table gets finished in one sitting, so it’s best to have storage space ready. Even when you’re not dealing with leftovers, storage space is great for meal prep. You can whip up ready meals that can last for days. This assures that your senior has food to eat even while you’re out of the house.
You’ll also want storage containers that are airtight to keep the food fresh. Some of the most popular ones in use today are Rubbermaid’s vented food-storage containers, which are fridge- and microwave-safe, so your loved one will be able to easily heat food from the container itself. If you’re using a meal delivery service, you can also keep the meals in the fridge and then just follow instructions on thawing and heating them.
Preparing food for your senior loved ones may be tricky with having to take different things into account — from their nutritional needs to prep time and methods.