Cooking Tips For Caregivers
Well-thought-out plans reap its own rewards. Seniors’ nutritional needs are different from children’s and regular adults’ hence take more time to learn.
Familiarize what ingredients to get, study any history of allergies, learn to cook in bulk, and plan for 7 days at a time. This allows you to do shopping on the weekends, saving resources and time. Most importantly, talk to your senior loved one first to know their preferences and consult with a nutritionist or medical expert to optimize the meal plan.
For a more comprehensive guide, follow our tips below:
Know the Nutrients First
The top most needed nutrients, but not limited to, for seniors are3:
Calcium & Vitamin D – to help with bone mass and prevent life threatening frailty from easily breakable bones.
Vitamin B12 – it keeps red blood cell count high for nerve function. If they have healthy nerves, mobility, chewing food, and holding eating utensils are not much of a chore.
Potassium – Vital for their body’s cell functions, it also supports the risk of high blood pressure by helping blood vessel walls loosen. This thus supports circulation and minimizes damage in the extremities.
Fiber – it will keep their digestion healthy and move things along in their body. It also keeps cholesterol level in check by slowing down its absorption.
Water – water is key in preventing dehydration in seniors and will help soften stool to prevent constipation.
If you need a little additional help in topping off the daily essential nutrition requirement, nutritional supplements can be added. Make sure they have been specifically formulated for seniors. For example, Ensure® Complete Balanced Nutrition for Adults comes in powder and liquid versions for easy customization for preferences. 4
- Make meals quick to prepare. (E.g. steam and season or chop and stir fry.)
- Not all meals have to be solid so look into soups, puree, and raw vegetables and fruit smoothies.
- Go natural and fresh as possible as they are more wholesome and do not contain any hidden additives. If you have to use canned or preserved items, read and compare labels.
- Choose lean red meats, skinless chicken, whole grains, legumes, and avoid deep frying anything.
- Grind your own spices as store bought ones contain sodium and possible preservatives.
- Prepare in bulk and freeze ready to heat portions. This also includes ingredients for future meals.
- Plan for snacks and keep prepared fruits, vegetable sticks, and unsalted mixed nuts for snacks. This prevents last minute craving snacks from becoming junk and interrupting regular meals.
- Work a comfort food or two into your meal plan as it can boost their morale.
- Cook together! Planning or cooking together not only allows you to better understand their needs, it also provides them with something to keep them mentally active.