Senior Nutrition - Get an Elderly Person to Eat Better
My mother is 89
years old and a widow, so she gets little enjoyment from cooking meals and
eating alone. Instead, she frequently makes her main meal from a bowl of cereal
and milk. While this is okay for breakfast, it will not provide the balanced
nutrition that is so important for elderly people if relied on for lunch and dinner as
Since I cannot monitor her eating habits all the time, I have developed these strategies to ensure my mother eats three nutritious and appealing meals a day.
Make a little extra
When I cook for my family I often make a little extra, package it, and put it in the freezer. Then, when I go for my weekly visit with my mother, I bring the meals with me. She puts them in the freezer and reheats them in the microwave when she doesn't feel liking cooking. I don't bother to label the packages anymore because she says she likes to be surprised!
During my weekly visits with my mother we always go out for lunch. I make sure to order a large entrée, or go to a restaurant that offers seconds. (The Olive Garden in our area is famous for offering seconds on bread, salad, soup, and their refillable pasta bowl). I never finish all my meal and neither does my mother. We both get a box for the leftovers and, since she eats very little, we leave with two ready-made meals.
The senior center near my mother's home provides a hot lunch five days a week for
$3.00. While she refuses to go every day, I have set up a standing order for
the local paratransit to pick her up and take her to the luncheon every
Tuesday. She gets a good, nutritious lunch and also has some company. Unfortaunately, many senior lunch programs are being shut down, victims of the bad economy and lack of funding.
Trips to the market
My mother depends on me to take her to the market so I make sure she gets all the items on her list. I also make suggestions if she does not seem to be buying a healthy variety of foods. "Look mom! These oranges are on sale" or "Progresso Soup is buy one, get one free. Might as well get two". Being very thrifty, she also loves to check out the clearance sale at the butcher shop. I help her find the cuts of meat that are marked 30% to 50% off. She gets a bargain and I know she has a good protein source for at least one meal because she will not let food go to waste.
When the weather gets colder she and I have cooking parties. I bring recipes for easy, one-dish meals and we both shop for the ingredients. She sits at the table and does the chopping and peeling, and I do the mixing and cooking. We generally make 3 or 4 meals and package them for the freezer. She thinks she is helping me get meals together for my family and it makes her feel useful. But the end result is she also has an extra 3 or 4 meals for the week.
- Meals On Wheels and More
Learn Meals on Wheels and More is the strongest voice of the home-delivered meal community, both in Texas and nationwide, in advocating for home bound people.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a wonderful national organization that provides nutritious meals to people who are homebound or disabled. Most chapters deliver at least one meal (lunch) per day, on weekdays. Some deliver a daily hot lunch and a cold dinner such as a sandwich and fruit. The meals remind me of what we used to get as kids at the school cafeteria. Nothing fancy, but warm and nutritious. Seniors are charged a small fee based on their ability to pay. This was a great service but my mother said she got tired of the food. This is probably to be expected, although I think the underlying problem is her Depression era cheapness!
My mother still lives at home, but I hear of seniors in retirement communities who participate in swap meals. They make extra food when they make a meal, and then swap it for the extra the neighbor made. This way the seniors don't get tired of their own cooking, get to try different recipes and cuisines, and also try a little harder with the meal preparation because they know someone else will be eating it!