Eating a healthy diet is important at any age, but it’s especially important for aging seniors.
In addition to keeping a person’s physical body healthy, eating well also can be one of the best ways to help your aging parent to stay emotionally healthy and keep a positive state-of-mind. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be about making sacrifices and compromises with what your parent loves to eat, it’s more about helping your parent enjoy fresh delicious food, made with wholesome ingredients and doing it with friends and family, making a meal a whole body, mind, and soul experience.
Good nutrition sharpens the mind, boosts positive emotions, and can help your senior live longer and better. So, how do you ensure your parent is eating well?
1. Go shopping with your parent.
Travel to the grocery store together, helping your parent pick out food that she not only likes but is also good for her health. It’s important to encourage products like fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, and items high in fiber. So, if your parent loves carrots, encourage her to buy fresh carrots instead of canned carrots. If your parent has never thought about these types of foods, then you going with them to the store can help guide them in the right direction of the best foods they can get.
2. Help your parent learn new ways to prepare food.
Maybe it’s time to take that cooking class together? By spending time together, a new task can seem fun and exciting, not daunting, and overwhelming. Even if it’s simply looking at a new way to make different types of salads, helping your parent open previously-closed doors to new food experiences, may give her the needed incentive to try new things.
3. Plan family dinners.
The enjoyment of having company can help almost anyone eat better. When planning a family dinner with your senior parent, make sure to have menu items that she’ll not only enjoy but that will be good for her. Associating the pleasure of community with a particular food can make that item seem even more enjoyable. And don’t forget to send leftovers home with your parent so she can easily reheat and enjoy the meal for another time.
4. Enlist help.
Whether it’s signing up for a home meal delivery plan, asking the neighbors to bring meals, or hiring a home care professional to come into your parent’s home and prepare a meal or two, it’s important that you don’t try to do it all on your own. There are plenty of services out there willing to step in and help; and most likely, you have friends or family that would also love to help out by providing a weekly meal.
As your senior parent ages, many things may cause stumbling blocks to good nutrition, from budget concerns to reduced appetite and even problems chewing and swallowing. Maintaining an open and non-shaming conversation with your parent about her eating habits will help you both to make needed adjustments that will enrich her life and increase her overall health.