Most of us eagerly anticipate a delicious meal – the comforting tastes and scents, the satisfying sensation of a full stomach. For some older individuals, though, a host of health concerns can prevent their enjoyment of meals or even their ability to shop for nutritious foods, which can lead to dietary deficiency in many instances. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has some solutions to some of the most leading senior nutrition problems, including:
Chewing challenges: For older adults who are experiencing challenges with chewing food well, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables could cause a problem. The FDA suggests the following substitutions:
- Instead of large cuts of meat, try eggs, ground meat, cheese, yogurt, milk, and other dairy products.
- Rather than sliced bread, choose rice, soft cookies, bread pudding, or cooked cereals.
- As a substitute to raw veggies, consider vegetable juices or cooked or mashed veggies.
- In place of fresh fruit, try canned pears and peaches, fruit juice, or applesauce.
Nausea: Excessive gas, acid reflux problems, and various other gastrointestinal problems could potentially cause older individuals to avoid foods they think may possibly cause a problem. As a result, they might be missing out on critical nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, protein, and calcium. The FDA recommends:
- Try vegetable juices, carrots and potatoes, which are easier to digest, in the place of vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli.
- Try dairy foods other than milk that may not upset the stomach, like cream soups, pudding, cheese, or yogurt.
- Replace fresh fruit with soft canned fruits or fruit juice.
Shopping struggles: Many older adults who cannot drive or who live with other mobility problems experience difficulty shopping for themselves. When the inability to shop for groceries becomes a senior nutrition obstacle, the FDA recommends:
- Working with a professional senior care company, such as CareFor, for grocery shopping assistance.
- Requesting volunteer shopping assistance from a nearby church, synagogue, or volunteer center.
- Bringing in the help of a family member or friend.
- Utilizing a grocery delivery service.
Problems with cooking: Challenges with cooking food can result from cognitive problems like dementia, difficulty with handling cooking utensils or standing for lengthy periods of time. If inability to cook is a complication:
- Try using a microwave to cook frozen dinners as well as other frozen foods or meals that are prepackaged at the store.
- Request help from a local program like Meals on Wheels. If you are unsure of local meal preparation options for seniors, contact us for recommendations.
Appetite loss: Older adults who live alone can feel lonely at mealtimes, which can lead to reduced 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:
- Eating meals with loved ones if possible.
- Engaging in group meal programs provided through local senior centers.
- Contacting a local home care agency, like CareFor, for a companion to both prepare meals and make meal time more social.
- Talking to the doctor about whether or not medication could be causing a problem.
Are You Concerned About an Older Loved One’s Nutrition? We Can Help!
Good nutrition is vital, regardless of age. If a family member is struggling to overcome any of these leading senior nutrition problems, contact the home care team at CareFor. We can provide tips and community connections to improve senior nutrition. Reach out to us at (512) 338-4533 for more information on our senior care services in Lakeway, Austin, San Antonio, and the surrounding areas.