How Eating Healthy Can Get Harder with Age
We sometimes take our daily duties for granted–especially when it comes to nutrition. Most of us are able to go to the grocery store, make smart food choices, load up the car with bags, and prepare healthy meals without a second thought.
Tasks that are normal for younger people might be tough for seniors. Those with a maturing body don’t typically have it easy in the meal department, and can run into a variety of daily challenges. Here are some things to consider and helpful tips:
Grocery Shopping Can Be a Major Effort
Many seniors no longer have a driver’s license, so it can be difficult to go to grocery stores. Mobility issues might make any form of transportation a challenge, and walking around a store with a shopping cart or full basket might be tricky.
Carrying groceries home and putting items away takes a lot of effort, and might not be possible for everyone. For seniors who are still able to grocery shop but need assistance, caregivers can accompany them to the store and help with carrying groceries and driving. It might be worthwhile to even look into your local grocery stores to see if they have a shopping assistance program or home delivery program (these tend to have an added cost).
Food Prep Requires Energy and Dexterity
Mobility issues can throw a wrench in food preparation. Standing for long enough to chop and prepare meals can be tiring or impossible, so it might seem easier to pop something in the microwave. However, instant meals are often high in sodium and may not be as nutritious.
If you have arthritis, you might struggle with opening jars or cans, and find it difficult to use utensils. Those with vision problems–like macular degeneration–can’t always see well enough to measure, pour, chop, or read recipes. Arranging weekly preparation with friends, family or the help of a caregiver can mitigate those struggles.
Good Food Costs More and Takes Time to Make
Nutritious food can be more expensive than quick prep meals. Fruits and veggies are heavy and can be a struggle to carry home, cut, and prepare. Snacking is common throughout the day, which can cause seniors to navigate away from cooking a proper healthy meal.
Most people don’t find it fun to eat alone, and the desire to cook a good meal is low if there are no friends or family members around. A caregiver can keep this person engaged and in good company while they create a nice meal, even if it’s small and simple. Together, they might try new recipes or old favorites, creating purpose and nostalgic memories.
If there’s family nearby, it’s a great excuse to plan a bigger, healthier meal once a week or more. Large meals are great for freezing–especially soups, stews, casseroles, and lasagna–so a caregiver or relative can divide it into portions to be heated up at a later time.
Nurse Next Door can support seniors’ independence by providing a variety of home care services such as meal preparation.