With fast-food and convenience items galore, healthy eating and proper nutrition can be difficult at any age. But, for seniors, maintaining good nutrition poses an even bigger challenge.
Many aging adults no longer cook for themselves, have limited transportation options to go to the grocery store, or are on a small budget, so seasonal, healthy foods may feel out of reach. However, a well-balanced diet is critical. Together with an active lifestyle, healthy eating is the key to longevity, improved immunity and a higher quality of life.
To help seniors maintain a healthy diet and in honor of National Nutrition Month, Home Instead Senior Care the world’s largest provider of in-home care services for seniors is asking seniors to focus on nutrition and offering a variety of tips and free recipes.
“Many of the physical effects of aging, such as a weakened immune system or decreased energy, can be combated through nutrition,” said Molly Carpenter, Caregiver Advocate at Home Instead. “Our mission is to provide all the resources for seniors to live long, healthy and fulfilling lives where they want to be at home.”
Home Instead is encouraging those with aging loved ones to help out with meal planning and dine together as often as possible. Meals together are important as they help seniors battle loneliness, poor diet, and assist with medication management, as many prescriptions must be taken with food.
Following is a list of simple shopping and planning tips to help families get started.
- Make a list. Sit down with your senior loved one and make a list of what he or she wants to eat for the week. Preplanning saves time and money. Invite a friend. The resulting companionship makes the task of grocery shopping easier and more fun.
- Think variety. It’s easy to get in a rut, so encourage seniors to try new foods or recipes. Many stories have dieticians on staff and are happy to recommend new recipes. Shop the perimeter. Focus your trip on the perimeter of the store where most of the fresh, healthier foods are located.
- Avoid convenience foods. Shoppers are always tempted to buy something that doesn’t require a lot of time to prepare, but these foods lack nutritional value that many seniors require.
Clip coupons. Review store ads, clip coupons and organize them at home.
- Discount programs. Sign up for a grocer’s bonus or discount card to get access to store specials.
- Try store brands. Store-brand items are cheaper and just as tasty.
Budget wisely. Remind your senior to use their food budget wisely. For the price of a large bag of chips and a box of cookies, you can buy a good supply of apples, bananas, carrots, potatoes, peppers and other healthy options.
- Look for hydration options. In addition to water, look for foods like watermelon, popsicles, and other fruits that are hydrating. Or, look for ways to enhance water, such as a splash of juice or adding fruit like lemons and limes to water.
For access to recipes, information on healthy eating habits for seniors, and more tips on how to overcome senior mealtime challenges, visit www.caregiverstress.com. Or, to learn more about National Nutrition Month, visit www.eatright.org.