All too often, elderly people will fall into poor eating habits. This can be caused by a number of things, but some of the most common causes of unhealthy eating habits include depression and boredom.
As the family member of a senior with a poor diet, you may find yourself feeling afraid for a your loved one’s health. This feeling may become even more overwhelming if the older adult has become overweight, or if they have other health problems such as diabetes. In these cases, you might be led to step in and try to adjust your family member’s food choices out of concern for their well-being.
Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to convince a senior to change their ways. Habits that have been followed for years, and even newer habits that bring a person temporary pleasure, can be especially difficult to overcome. This makes food ruts incredibly hard to help a person work their way out of.
That said, difficult does not equal impossible, and by working together, you and your client can come up with a healthy yet delicious diet that leaves both of you feeling great. Below are some tips for accomplishing this goal.
Try New Recipes
If your senior friend is tired of eating the same things day after day, or if their usual go-tos are less than healthy, it might be time to find some new meal options. Make this a fun activity by thumbing through cookbooks together and spending some afternoons watching cooking shows.
With a few new recipes in hand, head to the store, gather your ingredients, and cook the new meal together. This will ensure your loved one does actually put forth the effort to make and try the new food without leaving all of the work to them. It also gives you both an opportunity to connect and make wonderful memories together.
Tweak Old Recipes
Perhaps the senior in your life actually loves all of their old recipes and is hesitant to change their diet completely. If this is the case, consider helping them tweak the old recipes to make them more healthful. This might include replacing whole-fat dairy with reduced-fat options, replacing pasta with a whole wheat version, adding in extra veggies, and encouraging smaller portion sizes in addition to fruit and veggie sides.
Visit a Farmer’s Market
A visit to the local farmer’s market is about so much more than food. Many markets are similar to festivals in that they include live entertainment and even craft vendors. These events can make for a fun day out, but they also encourage shoppers to purchase fresh products and other healthy food options.
With these foods on hand, your older family member will be much more likely to reach for them over the candy or baked goods.
Share With Family and Friends
Many seniors enjoy baking to pass the time. This is great except that baking often leads to eating way too much sugar. Instead of insisting that your loved one quit baking, encourage sharing the baked goods with friends and family. Use the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies as an excuse to invite the grandkids over, or have your family member take the yummy muffins to the senior center with them. This will allow the elderly cook to continue practicing his or her hobby without eating all of the results.
By providing your senior loved one with the tools and information he or she needs in order to begin eating healthier, you are giving them an opportunity to improve their quality of life. Therefore, whether or not you believe your family member will like the advice, is it a good idea to put the suggestion of a cleaner diet in front of them.
Here at ActiveCare Home Care, we know you care about the elderly people in your life and their health. We also know how difficult it can be to keep up with a loved one’s diet. Therefore, we encourage you to consider hiring an in home care giver if the process becomes too much for you to handle. A caregiver will be happy to help your older adult family member manage their diet through meal planning and trips to the grocery store.