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?
Kim from Grand Haven, MI
How Nutrition Changes with Age
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.
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.