Healthy eating can start to become a serious challenge as we age. Often eating problems are signs of underlying health concerns, some can become very serious. It is important that older adults learn news ways to incorporate healthy eating. Below, we address a few common eating issues that face older adults focusing on helping them get complete nutrition.
Issue One: Chewing food
If you have difficulties chewing you may have trouble eating fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.
What to do: Try different types of the same food
||Fruit juices; soft canned fruits, like applesauce, peaches and pears
||Vegetable juices; creamed and mashed cooked vegetables
||Ground meat; other high- protein foods, like eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt; and foods made with milk, like pudding and cream soups
||Cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding, and soft cookies
Issue Two: Upset stomach
Stomach problems, like too much gas, may make you stay away from specific foods that you love because you think they are causing the problem. You could be missing out on important nutrients, like vitamins, calcium, fiber and protein.
What to do: Try eating the food in another dish.
||Milk foods that may not bother you, like cream soups, pudding, yogurt and cheese
|Vegetables like cabbage and broccoli
||Other vegetables, like green beans, carrots and potatoes; vegetable juices
||Fruit juices; soft canned fruits
Note: Be sure to visit your doctor about any stomach problems.
Issue Three: Difficulty Shopping For Themselves
Shopping may have become difficult if you no longer can drive or find it very painful to stand for extende periods of time.
What to do: Have someone help you
- Ask your local Grocery store to bring food directly to your home. Some stores will deliver for free. However, sometimes there is a small charge that may be worth it for your senior.
- Let your church or synagogue know you need help and they can request a volunteer who can bring food to you. Or sign up for help with a local senior center.
- Request that a family member or neighbor do your shopping for you when they go shopping. Or pay someone to shop for you. Some companies let you hire home health aid workers for a few hours a week. These workers may shop for you and run other errands. Look for these companies in the Yellow Pages of the phone book under “Home Health Services.”
Issue Four: They can’t cook for themselves anymore
It is difficult to hold cooking utensils, pots and pans due to arthritis related pain.
What to do: Cook food differently
- Use a microwave oven to cook healthy TV dinners, frozen foods, and packaged foods made by the grocery store.
- Take part in group meal plans offered through senior citizen programs. Or, have meals brought to your home.
- Move to a place where someone else will cook, like a family member’s home or a home for senior citizens.
- To find out about senior citizen group meals and home-delivered meals, call (1-800) 677- 1116. These meals cost little or no money.
Issue Five: Loss of appetite
Older people who have lived alone sometimes feel very isolated at mealtimes. Loneliness can make you lose your appetite and making eating sad. Or they may not feel like making meals for themselves, as it is too much work for one person.
Maybe food has lost its flavor or tastes bad now. This could be caused by medicines they are taking.
What to do: Eat with others
- Schedule time to eat with family and friends.
- Take part in group meal programs, offered through senior citizen programs. Most of these programs are offered with someone visiting your home while they eat.
- Ask your doctor if your medicines could be causing appetite or taste problems. If so, ask about changing medicines.
- Increase the flavor of food by adding spices and herbs. Be careful of adding too much sodiu.
Issue Six: Money concerns
Financial problems may keep your seionr from eating nutritiously.
What to do: There are many ways to save money
- Buy low-cost foods, like dried beans and peas, rice and pasta. Or buy foods that contain these items, like split pea soup and canned beans and rice.
- Use coupons for savings on foods you like.
- Buy foods on sale. Buy store-off brand foods. They often cost less.
- Find out if your local church or synagogue offers free or low-cost meals.
- Buy in bulk to lower costs and share the food with your senior.
- Take part in group meal programs offered through local senior citizen programs. Or, have meals brought to your home.
- Get food stamps. Call the food stamp office listed under your county government in the blue pages of the telephone book.
Eating well is key to good health. If your elder needs help with their nutrition it should be a priority. Any weight changes are a key sign that you will need to step in and help.