As with all other phases in life, as we age, our nutrition needs change. This summer, as we jump into the hustle and bustle of social gatherings, let’s remember to consider the needs and preferences of our elderly loved ones. Not only do they have a different set of nutritional concerns, but they likely have different taste preferences that are respectful to consider. Here are some thoughts and ideas on how to give our seniors a healthy and safe summer to enjoy.
Keep hydrated: Staying adequately hydrated is a very big health concern amongst the senior population. At social gatherings, try to incorporate more fluids that are fun to enjoy. Examples include flavored water (strawberry & basil, lemon and cucumber) or unsweetened iced teas. You can even help contribute to their fluid intake by providing high water content fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, tomato, and pineapple.
Spice things up: It’s not uncommon to see a flavor and taste diminish as we age. Using more robust seasonings (without salt) will help enhance the flavor of foods. Think turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, ginger, garlic, and onion. Additionally, many spices have antioxidant benefits that can be especially helpful for our seniors in fighting off diseases
Be mindful of textures: Keeping food around that’s easy to chew or cut up into smaller pieces is helpful for those with dentures or missing teeth. This can be difficult for protein foods so think egg salad or deviled eggs, chicken salad, casseroles, and cottage cheese.
Eat the rainbow: It’s easy to become deficient in nutrients as we age. By eating a variety of colors, we’re ensuring that we’re getting the proper blend of micronutrients that our bodies need. The darker the color, the more potent the vitamins and minerals are. Plus, we eat with our eyes first and a well presented plate is always appreciated!
Lastly, and most importantly, remember their favorites: As much as we would love grandma to try the new kale chip recipe we found on TikTok, just remember that they’ve been cooking longer than you’ve probably been living. Food, recipes, tastes, and smells ignite memories that help us feel a sense of community and connection. Don’t forget what their favorites are and try to include these when possible, whether they’re deemed “healthy” or not.