Whether you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly individual living at home or just want to spend some quality time with your aging loved one making memories and sharing stories in the kitchen, cooking for seniors is a wonderful way to brighten their day and enrich your life.
However, there are a number of obstacles to overcome when cooking for seniors. Like it or not, as we age our body changes and we can’t always eat like we used to. Dietary restrictions, intolerance to certain foods, and decreased ability to smell, taste, or chew may all change how seniors see mealtime. But with a little help, a little planning, and a little ingenuity you too can help your loved one enjoy food again.
When Cooking for Seniors Soft Moist Foods Are Best
Soups, stews, and slow braised meats are easier for older individuals to eat. Dental issues, decreased saliva production, and weakened muscles can make the physical act of eating difficult. By slow cooking foods in liquid it breaks down the physical bonds (making chewing easier) and changes the chemical composition (which may make food easier to digest).
Here are some easy to chew and swallow recipes for seniors.
Stay Away From Salt
Loss of sensation (especially smell and taste) is something home caregivers have to overcome. But don’t sprinkle on the salt. It’s estimated that 52% of people 55 or older struggle with high blood pressure. Avoiding table salt is an easy way to keep meals healthier. When you’re cooking for seniors, find alternative ways to boost flavor like using ginger, vinegar, fresh herbs, and even wine.
Sub Out the Sweets
Home caregivers know that seniors retain their ability to taste sweetness longer (which may be why we associate our grandparents with hard candy.) But sweeteners–especially high fructose corn syrup–can lead to blood sugar spikes. Instead swap out unhealthy sweets for better options like fresh berries, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, and even honey.
Find Easy Recipes Seniors Can Cook Themselves
Elder care is demanding and–try as we may–we can’t always be there to help our loved ones. However, stocking their kitchen with easy-to-prepare items and food staples makes meal prep easier for them.