Posted on Friday, May 8, 2015
Planning Meals for Elderly Parents and Loved Ones Photo Credit: Kathie Lapcevic

Whether you or a caregiver will be planning meals for elderly parents and loved ones, it’s important to know a few general principles to follow. In this articles, we’ll discuss some of these principles and how you can start applying them today.

Healthy Eating

If anything, a healthy diet becomes more and more important for seniors as they age. Many seniors deal with some level of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, or cancer. When the diet is not healthy, this can lead to an increase in health risks and problems over time.

Furthermore, it’s important to keep an eye on a senior’s diet for their own good. The mind is directly affected by the body, and a healthy diet can often improve a senior’s mood and outlook on life.

Considerations

It’s important to consider reasons why a senior may have a difficult time maintaining a healthy diet or eating much at all. Depression, difficulties in chewing, or change in taste can all be factors to consider. Seniors often tend to eat less when they are alone and don’t have the reminder of meal times or someone else with which to enjoy the meals.

To counteract some of these potential difficulties, it’s important to plan meals in such a way that the senior will be most likely to eat them. For example, you may find that pre-making the meals is the best way to ensure that the senior eats well. For some seniors, however, it’s important for them to see the food being made, and they may even want to continue being part of the preparation process.

Obviously, the key here is flexibility. Learn what works best for your loved one and adapt accordingly. If the senior is having difficulty chewing, add a lot of soups, stews, and smoothies to the rotation.

Recommended Food and Portions

In overall meal planning, it’s important to include a good amount of antioxidants, folates, and vitamin D. As a simple rule of thumb, the more fruits and vegetables in the diet, the better. However, don’t overdo it with the fruits, as they can be very high in sugar.

The National Institute on Aging suggests particular levels of calories (per day) for males and females over 50. You should remember these levels as a general guideline: 1,600 calories for physically inactive women; 2,000 calories for physically inactive men; 1,800 calories for women with a moderately active lifestyle; 2,200 to 2,400 calories men with a  moderately active lifestyle; 2,000 to 2,200 calories for women with an active lifestyle; 2,400 to 2,800 calories for men with an active lifestyle.

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