One of the key components to help a senior continue to age in place at home is the ability to have access to regular, nutritious meals. But what was once an easy task can become more difficult as your loved one ages. For some seniors, getting to the grocery store regularly, experiencing a changing appetite or ongoing physical concerns keep them from preparing healthful breakfasts, lunches or dinners.
Meal Planning Ideas for the Elderly
Fortunately, there are more tools than ever to assist aging parents plan meals. Here are a few of our favorite ideas.
Plan a group meal preparation day
Some seniors who live alone may not want to (or know how to) prepare meals for one. It can also be difficult to gauge how much food they’ll need during the week, and multiple grocery trips might not be feasible. If possible, schedule a regular meal preparation day or two each month with your loved one and a group of friends (theirs or yours!).
Everyone can purchase a handful of ingredients that can be combined into several casseroles or meals to be frozen and reheated later. Not only does each person get to take home a few meals, the time spent with each other will help ease loneliness. Plus, your loved one can feel a sense of dignity in helping to contribute to the meals.
Change up old food routines
Seniors who have recently lost a spouse or who have experienced a change in appetite due to illness, medications or other aging factors may not enjoy the same foods they used to. They can also find it difficult to chew tougher foods, or they simply may not feel like eating alone.
Help your loved one plan a new grocery list that includes any foods they still enjoy plus one or two new ones to try. Keep old and new favorites readily available so they can grab something when they do feel like eating. You can also try purchasing smaller ready-made, frozen or take-and-bake meals that are easy to pop in the microwave or heat on the stove.
Keep recipes efficient and simple
For seniors that still enjoy preparing meals, find recipes that use the same few ingredients. Use these recipes to fill out a weekly meal plan, then grocery shop. This step helps to keep seniors from needing to make multiple trips for more ingredients. It also provides variety in their meals without breaking the budget or having extra ingredients go to waste.
Try a meal kit delivery service
A few years ago, a meal kit delivery service was a novel idea, but now there are many food and recipe subscription services to fit every appetite, palate and budget. If you don’t live close to your loved one, you could monitor the service for them on your own account, and have the food and recipes delivered right to their door.
You could also hop on a weekly call to discuss which menu options they’d like to try that week. Or, you could help them set up an account and sign on themselves to order as needed, when they’d like.
The bonus in this service is not only the convenience (kits typically come with pre-measured ingredients and can be refrigerated or frozen until it’s time to prepare them), but the ability for your loved one to feel a sense of ownership over their meal times.
In-home personal care provider
For seniors that need a little extra help at meal times or with day to day tasks, an in-home personal care provider can be the perfect solution. These professionals can assist with grocery shopping and meal preparation along with other day to day tasks.
The great thing about an in-home personal care provider is that they’re able to provide support and companionship beyond just mealtimes. This person can be a vital part of your loved one’s overall care team. Their help can mean that your loved one can enjoy the comforts of home for far longer, while being monitored to note changes in appetite, when softer foods might be appropriate or when fresh groceries are needed.
Regular meals and enjoyable foods are key to ensuring your loved one continues to enjoy the independence of home for as long as possible. Whether you’re able to help your loved one each week with meals or need to work with someone to provide an in-home meal preparation service we want your loved one to remain happy at home while they can.
In-Home Personal Care Providers in Akron, Ohio
Our goal is to help seniors enjoy living at home for longer. My Family Home Health Care in Akron, Ohio offers a variety of in-home services including in-home personal care and meal preparation. Let My Family take care of your family. Contact us today for an assessment.