How Caregivers Can Help Seniors Eat Healthier

How Caregivers Can Help Seniors Eat Healthier

Dear Donna,

My dad is 70 years old, and I am concerned about his diet. He has arthritis, so it’s difficult for him to cook. He usually opts for fast food because the drive-through is convenient. When he does make it to the grocery store, he purchases processed and frozen foods high in sodium. How can I help my senior dad eat better?

Sincerely,

Kim from Grand Haven, MI

How Nutrition Changes with Age

Dear Kim,

It’s great that you are trying to help your dad eat healthier. Mobility constraints are a common reason seniors choose convenience foods over healthy options. However, a diet rich in nutrients is essential for older adults to maintain their health.

Nutrition needs can change with age for various reasons, including:

  • Slowed metabolism: People usually become less active with age. This slows metabolism, so they require less food.
  • Decreased nutrition absorption: Although seniors often require less food, their nutrient requirements increase. Unfortunately, their bodies absorb and use nutrients less effectively, making it more important to make good choices.
  • Change in appetite: Many seniors’ appetites change. This shift can be caused by certain medications or a decrease in their senses of smell and taste.

Consider Frozen Foods

Frozen foods can be a great way for seniors to eat healthy, so long as they are choosing the right foods. Take time to make sure your loved one knows how to read nutrition labels on frozen meals. They should look for items with less than 300–400 calories and between 8 and 25 grams of fat, depending on their diet. Also, make sure meals have less than 800 milligrams of sodium. A few senior-friendly options include:

  • Amy’s Asian Noodle Stir-Fry
  • Trader Joe’s Tandoor Chef Chicken Tandoori with Spinach
  • Healthy Choice Cajun Style Chicken & Shrimp
  • Lean Cuisine Salmon with Basil

Try Meal Delivery Services

If grocery shopping is an issue and no one is available to help, your loved one may benefit from a home delivery meal service. Meal delivery services bring fully cooked meals straight to your doorstep. You store them in the fridge and microwave them when you are ready to eat.

Silver Cuisine, for example, makes meals specifically for adults over 65. Your loved one can choose a meal plan that meets their dietary needs. A few options include heart-healthy, low-sodium, and Mediterranean meal plans.

Consider Meals on Wheels Programs

If you are unable to help your loved one meet their nutrition requirements, then you may want to see if your community has a Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels is dedicated to providing seniors with the nutrition they need to avoid food insecurity and remain independent. Through this program, volunteers deliver well-rounded meals to the home. To learn more about this program or locate your local organization, visit the Meals on Wheels website.

Nutrition Is Important

A healthy diet is essential for all ages, including seniors. Meeting nutrition requirements is necessary for older adults to stay healthy and independent. Those who eat healthily often report stronger immune health, higher energy levels, better cognitive functioning, and an easier time managing chronic conditions.

I hope this helps your dad eat better.

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities Supports a Healthy Diet

If you are concerned about your aging loved one’s ability to eat healthily, you may want to consider senior living. Most communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, provide meals designed for the unique needs of older adults. Many communities also offer options to accommodate specialty diets, like low-sodium or sugar-free meals.

Contact us today to learn more about how we help our residents eat healthily.

 

Tips for Busy Caregivers to Eat Healthy on the Go

Tips for Busy Caregivers to Eat Healthy on the Go

Caregivers are busy and often on the go. Having a lot on your plate can make it difficult to prepare healthy meals. Many caregivers opt for quick foods that are ready to eat. Unfortunately, many of these lack nutrition and are heavily processed.

A poor diet not only negatively affects your physical and mental wellbeing, but it can also affect your ability to care for your senior loved one. A healthy diet, on the other hand, can leave you energized and ready to tackle any challenge. Here are a few tips for busy caregivers to eat healthy on the go.

3 Tips for Eating Healthy on the Go

  1. Look for chain restaurants with healthy menu options.

Fast food has a bad reputation, but many popular chains have accommodated the demand for healthier options. If you need something quick while on the go, don’t be afraid to check out their options.

El Pollo Loco, for example, features an “Under 500 Calories” section on their menu. You can enjoy fresh foods like the Chicken Black Bean Bowl or a Double Chicken Avocado Salad. Even McDonald’s has healthier options. You can choose sliced apples instead of fries or the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich instead of fried chicken.

  1. Research home delivery meal services.

Home delivery meal services, like Freshly, deliver fully cooked meals straight to your door. This service can help caregivers who don’t have time to cook fresh, healthy meals for themselves. When the meals arrive, store them in your refrigerator. When you are ready to eat, simply pop them in the microwave.

A great thing about these services is many allow you to select a meal plan based on your diet and nutrition goals. They might offer vegan, keto, or low-carb options. Some companies even allow you to customize your meals. For example, you might be able to make a menu item low-sodium or sugar-free.

  1. Take advantage of restaurant delivery services.

Restaurant delivery services are another great option for busy caregivers. These let you order food from local restaurants and have it delivered to your home or office. Food delivery services let you access more options and allow you to receive food within minutes. This feature can be particularly beneficial for caregivers who need something to eat last minute.

Uber Eats and DoorDash are two popular restaurant delivery services. They allow you to order and pay for food directly from a phone app. Once you place your order, you can track the status of your delivery until it arrives at your location.

Healthy Eating Is Important

There are so many benefits to eating a healthy diet. In addition to improving physical health, making good food choices can help caregivers avoid weight loss or weight gain, increase energy, and manage many chronic medical conditions. Being healthy helps caregivers provide their loved ones with the care they deserve.

Heritage Senior Communities Encourages Healthy Eating

If your caregiving role is affecting your diet, you may want to explore local senior living options. Many assisted living communities, including Heritage Senior Communities, offer comfortable and safe living arrangements for seniors while allowing them to maintain their independence. The best way to learn more about how our communities help seniors thrive is by scheduling a private tour. Contact us today to get started.

3 Virtual Caregiving Tips for Faraway Adult Children

3 Virtual Caregiving Tips for Faraway Adult Children

Dear Donna,

I am the primary caregiver for my 70-year-old mother. She is reasonably healthy, but she has some trouble with mobility. I don’t think she needs around-the-clock assistance, but I worry about her being alone. Unfortunately, I live 60 miles away, so I can’t check on her as often as I would like.

Do you have any caregiving tips for faraway adult children?

Sincerely,

Miranda from Grand Haven, MI

Caring for an Aging Parent Who Lives Far Away

Dear Miranda,

Caring for an aging parent can be difficult for anyone, but distance creates unique challenges. By not being present physically, many caregivers struggle to understand and meet their loved ones’ needs. Some caregivers also feel guilty they can’t be with their loved ones more often.

Fortunately, there are many tools and resources available to caregivers who provide care remotely. By knowing some options, caregivers who live far away can better care for their loved ones. Here are a few virtual caregiving tips for faraway adult children.

3 Virtual Caregiving Tips

  1. Take advantage of technology.

Advances in technology have made it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family members around the world. Many of these tools can help caregivers stay updated on how their senior loved ones are doing. Video chat, for example, allows you to have a face-to-face conversation.

In addition to fostering a deeper connection, video calls also give you a chance to look for signs that your loved one might need some assistance. For example, you can take note if they’ve lost or gained weight. This can mean they are struggling to eat healthy.

You might also catch a glimpse of their living environment. If your loved one’s space looks messy, it might indicate they are having trouble maintaining the home. By seeing these signs early, you can take preventative measures to keep them safe. Echo Show and GrandPad are two senior-friendly video calling devices.

  1. Have an emergency plan.

Regardless of how cautious you are, accidents happen. It’s important to have a plan in case an emergency occurs and you can’t get to your loved one quickly. One key component is your support system. Keep a list of people who can help your loved one. This might include local family members or friendly neighbors.

You might also want to consult with nearby assisted living communities or home care companies. You can arrange for them to care for your loved one if needed.

  1. Consult with a senior care manager.

Senior care managers are trained specialists who help families through the process of caring for aging loved ones. They can be called a variety of names, including “geriatric care manager” or “elder care manager.” Regardless of what you call them, their purpose is to decrease family members’ stress and increase the senior’s quality of life.

Senior care managers can help with anything from supporting family caregivers with legal and financial matters to evaluating seniors’ safety. They can also help manage doctors’ appointments.

These care professionals can be particularly helpful to long-distance caregivers because they act as an unbiased and professional set of eyes. Caregivers can take comfort in knowing specialists have their loved one’s best interests at heart.

Caring for a Senior Loved One Isn’t Always Easy

Caring for an aging parent is rarely easy, and the job can become more challenging as distance increases. With proper planning, you can find a way to ensure your senior loved one gets the care they deserve.

I hope these tips make it easier for you to care for your aging parent from far away.

Sincerely,

Donna

Senior Living at Heritage Senior Communities

If you are struggling to care for your loved one at a distance, you may want to explore local senior living options. Heritage Senior Communities offers a variety of living options for seniors, including Specialized Dementia, Assisted Living, and Independent Senior Living. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.