Dietary Guidance, Nutrition Tips, and Meal Ideas for Older Adults
By Greg Bechard
Owner of Home Instead Mississauga
Humankind has built relationships throughout the ages via the dinner table. How many meals have you sat through where a lively conversation took place? You instill good manners in your children each time you sit down for a meal. As time goes on, though, some people lose the benefits of eating with others. One group in particular who suffers this loss is senior citizens. Along with the loneliness that finds its way in old age, the lack of nutritious and balanced meals often becomes inevitable. It doesn't have to be that way for you or your elderly parents. With the assistance of a professional home care worker, your aged loved one can enjoy both companionship and healthy meals.
Supporting Your Senior through Good Nutrition
As we age, our eating habits change. For seniors, this can mean that they eat less because they don't feel hungry or have ill-fitting dentures. They may suffer from loneliness and not feel the need to cook for only one person. However, maintaining their health is vital to enjoying many more years. To accomplish this, it's helpful to understand general food guidelines, gather some meal ideas, and learn some essential nutrition tips and healthy sweet treats for your aging loved one.
1. Nutrition for Seniors According to Canada's Food Guide
Encouraging your elderly father or mother to continue eating healthy will help them stay healthy and strong. It also aids them in maintaining their independence and quality of life so that they can age in place on their own terms. Canada's Food Guide suggests several ideas for maintaining healthy eating habits, including:
- Eat a variety: It gets boring to eat the same foods repeatedly. Not only will eating a variety give your seniors something to look forward to, but it also ensures they get the different nutrients they require. For instance, they need to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and proteins.
- Keep up on water intake: The elderly are easily susceptible to dehydration. Encourage your loved one to keep fresh water handy, at all times. Also, they can consume foods and other drinks that will keep them hydrated, such as milk, soups, vegetables, fruits, and plant-based beverages.
As you better understand some basic guidelines, you will be able to help your loved ones stay on top of their health and wellness. Finding innovative meal ideas is another significant step in the right direction.
2. Meal Ideas for Seniors
Cooking for one or two people gets challenging if your mom is used to cooking for large families. Decreasing the portions may prove tricky enough that your mother gives up and turns to frozen dinners. Sometimes, all it takes is a little inspiration. The internet is full of easy, delicious recipes for Dad and Mom that are nutritious, too. They might include some delicious ingredients packed with a powerhouse of nutritional benefits, too. Here are some ideas:
- Breakfast: Egg muffins, fruit and veggie muffins or fritters, steel-cut oatmeal with fruit, parfaits made of fruit, yogurt, and granola, and smoothies.
- Lunch: Salads with cheese, avocado, and egg, ham and cheese paninis, wraps with turkey, avocado and tomato, on an omelet with cheese and vegetables.
- Dinner: Vegetarian spaghetti, roasted chicken with garlic potatoes and glazed carrots, beef stew with root vegetables, and homemade chili
As you find new meals, you will also want to keep the right balance and blend of nutrients in mind. Doing so enhances what your aging adult eats, so they reap the benefits.
3. Nutrition Tips for Seniors
Building a solid base of recipes that are full of nutrition is useful. Adding some tips to your tool bag makes better food simpler:
- Keep an eye on essential vitamins and minerals: For those over 50, men and women need more of the following: Vitamins B6, B12, and D, Calcium, and Iron.
- Focus on nutrient dense foods: A wide range of nutrient-dense foods will keep things interesting for your senior. They can even be frozen or canned options.
- Utilize meal planning and prepping: After finding favourite recipes, put them on the calendar, and create a list based on those meals. Following this tip will make mealtimes easier for everyone.
As you implement steps to aid your aging parent with eating healthier, you want to keep in mind that treats are still a good idea because they bring comfort and joy. The right ones will satisfy a sweet tooth and give the body more of what it needs.
4. Healthy Sweet Treats for the Elderly
We all want a treat now and then—so does your senior. Yet, you know they should not consume a bunch of sugary sweets to mess up their healthy eating habits. It's possible to have the occasional sweet while not thwarting the progress your loved one has made in eating better. Look for alternatives to make regular recipes healthier, such as:
- Baked goods: The cooler seasons and holidays often bring back memories of lovely baked cookies. How do you make them healthier? You or your senior can consider switching regular brownies with sweet potato brownies.
- Candy treats: Who doesn't like candy? Look for alternatives that still pack a nutrient punch, like chocolate and sea salt covered almonds, dark chocolate coconut bites, no-bake chocolate peanut butter cups, and dark chocolate bark.
- Fruits: Nature's candy can hit the spot when there's a craving for a sweet treat. Reach for cinnamon apple chips, frozen grapes and sweet cherries, fruit and cottage cheese, yogurt parfaits, and chocolate-dipped fruits.
Sometimes, having all the tools and tricks at your fingertips isn't enough. When you have a busy career and children at home, it pays to hire trusted services to ensure your aging parent is well cared for in your absence.
Living Life Fully Begins with Good Nutrition and Caregiver Support
You know you want to give your elderly family member the best care so they can live independently in their home. Look to the services of a professional home care worker from Home Instead Mississauga. Our team is highly trained and ready to serve your senior. We offer a variety of tailored home care services to your family's needs. Contact us today! Let's work together to give Mom and Dad the best opportunity to age in place well.
Call us at (905) 276-2273 to schedule a no-obligation, in-home consultation. Learn more about the compassionate, quality senior care we deliver every day to families in All Mississauga including: Clarkson, Cooksville, Dixie, Erin Mills, Erindale, Lakeview, Lorne Park, Port Credit, Sheridan, Streetsville.