Finding the fun in eating takes a little more creativity as we age. Even though our appetites naturally decline, eating healthy is, in some ways, more important than ever once we reach 65. For seniors, a well-balanced diet can improve mental and physical health, leading to a much better quality of life. If you’re wondering how to encourage nutritious eating in the lives of your aging parents, here are several tips from Ebenezer.
Share Meals Together
As we age, our bodies need fewer calories to keep going, and even though this can mean a decreased appetite, getting the right nutrients remains crucially important. One way to ensure our parents continue to eat regular meals and get the nutrition they need is to turn meals into a social event they’re excited to attend. Share your healthy habits, and bring over a juicer to fix a fresh juice full of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies. If distance and time are an issue, make use of technology to stay connected with virtual dinner parties. While you’re eating together, you’ll have an opportunity to keep diet as a regular topic of conversation, and to introduce simple tips, such as switching out the salt for fresh herbs and spices.
Create a Meal Plan
Since seniors have fewer calories in their diets, it’s important to make every one of them count. Developing a meal plan can be a fun project to tackle together, and it’s a great way to encourage nutritious, well-rounded eating. If we’re unprepared and looking around for something to eat, anything will do – but if we’re organized enough to schedule out our meals, it’s much easier to focus on getting the nutrition we need. Craft a meal plan full of hearty lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. You might even set aside one day a week to prepare a few meals together and freeze them for later.
Gift a Great Water Bottle
Everybody needs a good amount of water in their diet to function well, but staying hydrated becomes especially important for seniors. Aging tends to dull our sense of thirst, so seniors can be prone to dehydration, and sipping water regularly throughout the day can also help to avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and other health issues. One easy way to encourage your parents to drink plenty of water is to pick out a fun reusable water bottle for them. Maybe add some stickers or decorations to make it stand out, too. If it makes them smile, they’ll keep it around!
Talk Healthy Eating With Their Care Team
Nutrition may not be top of mind for your parents, but you can take the lead asking questions to their care team. Are there any medications affecting their appetite? If so, are there any viable alternatives? Do the doctors recommend any vitamin supplements? Seniors need large doses of Vitamin B and Vitamin D. Are they getting enough of those vitamins from their current diet?
Point Them to Resources
There are some wonderful resources available online to guide nutritional choices, and if you tend to be more comfortable with technology than your parents, you might help them to access that information. The MyPlate program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a wealth of seniors diet and nutrition tips. Lasty, if you’re looking into senior living communities, consider the Crafted Culinary program at Ebenezer, which offers delicious chef-prepared meals, a social dining area for a fun restaurant-style experience, and a huge range of options to satisfy any palate, plus specialized meal plans like our No Salt Added option.
If you’re looking for more healthy living tips, make sure to visit our Ebenezer blog.