As we age, healthy eating habits become increasingly important. The holiday season often presents unique challenges to families with elderly loved ones who may have problems enjoying a big Christmas dinner with the rest of the family. Because of certain health issues and food restrictions, many older people have trouble eating appropriately, whether that's eating enough or enough of the right types of foods. Luckily, the Food and Drug Administration offers some solutions to several common problems that keep seniors from eating a balanced diet.
For seniors who cannot chew food well, meats and fresh fruits and vegetables can be a problem. The FDA suggests the following substitutions:
Instead of fresh fruit, try freshly squeezed fruit juices, homemade apple sauce, or canned peaches and pears, if these fresh, fully ripe fruits are unavailable.
Instead of raw vegetables, try fresh-squeezed vegetable juices or mashed and cooked vegetables.
Instead of roasted or cooked meats, try ground meats, whole eggs, whole milk, soft cheeses, yogurts and other dairy products.
Instead of sliced breads, try cooked hot cereals, rice, bread puddings and soft cookies.
Unable to Shop for Groceries:
Some seniors may have problems shopping for themselves due to being unable to drive or having issues with walking. The FDA suggests:
Requesting a local store deliver groceries to the home.
Requesting volunteer shopping help from a local church, synagogue or volunteer center.
Asking a family member or neighbor to help with shopping.
Enlisting the help of a local home care agency, such as AAging Better In-Home Care to provide caregivers that can take the elder shopping or shop for them.
Lack of Appetite:
Elderly people who live alone sometimes feel acute loneliness during the holiday season, which can lead to a loss of appetite. They may also not feel up to making a meal just for themselves or the medication that they take might make food taste bad or differently, making it hard for the elderly to enjoy a simple meal they do make. For these issues, the FDA suggests:
Eating with family and friends, especially on Christmas Day.
Joining group meal programs offered through local senior citizens programs.
Talking to the elder's doctor about whether or not medication might be the problem.
Contacting a local home care agency to have a companion prepare and participate in making meal time a social activity.
If you have a senior loved one who has issues with eating or needs help around the house to prepare meals, do the shopping or just simple companionship, contact us online or call us at (208) 777-0308 in the Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls or Hayden areas, (208) 263-7889 in the Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry or Priest River areas, or (208) 784-1505 in the Kellogg, Wallace or Pinehurst areas. No elder should be alone during the holiday season and we can be there to see that doesn't happen!