Assisting Older Adults Who Live Independently to Eat HealthyAmericans now live longer than ever. Eating well adds vitality to these extra years while reducing the risk of disease. Making sure that your loved one has access to healthy meals and snacks can be a real challenge for caregivers.
If your loved one is living independently, make sure he/she has access to nutritious meals by stocking the pantry and fridge with healthy foods, such as cereals, soups, fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grain rice, pastas and breads (for added fiber), canned beans, yogurt, canned soup, 100% juice, and jarred pasta sauce. Frozen dinners are also an option. Make sure to look for dinners with less sodium and fat. Your loved ones will make better choices when these nutrient-rich foods are within reach. Look for low sodium and high fiber options that can help manage chronic health conditions.
The act of preparing a meal can be exhausting, but proper prep work minimizes the effort. Begin by creating a comfortable and safe cooking environment. Keep heavy appliances on the counter top while pots, pans, cooking utensils and equipment should be stored in accessible spots. Kitchen items that are used the most should be kept within easy reach to prevent unpredictable falls or muscle sprains that can come from straining to reach something that is stored too high or too low. Look for kitchen tools that can make completing tasks easier.
· Seek out prepared ingredients, which have already been chopped, washed and even cooked -- from stir-fry vegetables to salad greens to sliced chicken. These items can be combined for a variety of quick simple meals. Be sure to choose low- and reduced-sodium items.
· While stocking fresh fruits and vegetables can be a struggle, frozen and canned items are not only easier, but some also provide equivalent nutrition.
· Cereal is a viable option as it is well fortified. Consuming a loaf of bread in a timely manner can be a challenge.
· Repackaging bread after purchase to reduce incidence of spoilage. Place two to four slices in freezer sandwich bags. It is easy to remove one bag at a time and have bread that does not grow stale over time.
· Home delivered meals are another option as this reduces the stress of preparing multiple meals a day.
· Purchase single-servings: Individually wrapped items will extend the life of certain foods and allow for portability (examples include cheese, milk, yogurt, and fruit). Though these items might initially be more expensive compared to bulk items, greater savings will be seen in the long run due to less wasted food