Individuals who serve as a primary caregiver for an aging loved one bear many responsibilities, such as assisting with daily living activities (eating, bathing, dressing, etc.), household chores, errands, medication reminders, and medical appointments. One equally important way caregivers help aging loved ones is by promoting and providing a healthy and nutritious diet. However, cooking often requires time and energy that many caregivers simply lack due to all of their other responsibilities. Here are some simple and effective tips to making sure someone you’re caring for has healthy and nutritious meals.
Focus On Nutrition
First and foremost, caregivers are urged to prepare meals that are nutritious. This is not only vital to an older adult, but also to the caregiver’s own general health. Therefore, healthcare providers and nutritionists suggest natural and unprocessed meals containing the following:
- Produce products
- Lean meats
- Whole grain products
- Processed, canned, heavily fried, sugary, and fast foods should be avoided or consumed sparingly.
For additional information about healthy food and nutrition, check out resources provided by the USDA (https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition).
Prepare Meals In Advance
Dedicate a specific time, perhaps over a weekend, to prepare multiple meals at once. This will make the most efficient use of your time. For example, in one hour you can prepare multiple meals that can be reheated and eaten throughout the next week. This will make your subsequent meal preparation throughout the week much quicker and easier as you won’t have as much to cook or clean on a daily basis. Cooking many foods at once also helps to cut down on the amount of food that is wasted from making only one meal at a time.
Freeze Leftovers and Future Meals
When you prepare and cook meals in advance, you’re more than likely to have future meals and leftovers. Make sure to store any food in the appropriate manner, and freeze anything you don’t plan to eat in the next 3-4 days. Most foods will last 3-6 months in the freezer.
Use Flavorful Seasonings
Some older adults might be picky eaters for various reasons. This is particularly true if they have dietary restrictions or digestive issues with certain foods. In such cases, the prospect of consuming bland, tasteless food is unappealing. Caregivers can address this issue by experimenting with flavorful herbs and seasonings.
Employ A Slow Cooker
Occasionally, older adults might encounter difficulty chewing or digesting certain foods they have enjoyed eating in the past. Caregivers might circumvent this challenge by utilizing a slow cooker. Delicious stews, soups, and chilis can be prepared using a slow cooker. These foods are often softer and easier for an older adult to eat. Slow cookers are super easy to use and often result in plenty of leftovers that can be eaten in the coming days/weeks.
Hire A Personal Chef Or Cooking Service
Caregivers who simply do not have the time to prepare nutritious meals or find cooking difficult may opt to retain a professional chef or cooking service. Services such as Chefs for Seniors or other prepared meal services like Territory Foods offer convenient and healthy options that can be delivered to your home.
Caregivers with questions about this topic or any other senior care-related issue are encouraged to contact us. Further information about the services we provide can be accessed by visiting https://www.assistinghands.com/67/virginia/arlington/.