A diet consisting of cream and sugar sounds yummy, but as you can guess, isn’t nutritionally sound and won’t sustain you throughout the day. That’s exactly what my grandma would put on most everything. Cream and sugar on her cereal, pancakes, potatoes, etc. The list goes on and on. Not everyone is like my grandma when it comes to meals, but the risks of eating at home can be unhealthy, not to mention lonely.
There are several factors that feed into why elderly think they can eat malnourished meals. For starters, many of them live alone and don’t think they need to make a big meal just for themselves. While that may be true, there are ways to still make a great meal, but on a smaller scale. Cut the recipe in half, or only make 1-2 chicken breasts and open a bag of veggies. They are still getting nutritious meals that will fill them up and may have leftovers for lunch the next day.
Perhaps a lack of money is a reason your loved one doesn’t have the food they need to keep them healthy. There are programs that can help. Meals on Wheels are available for the elderly at a discounted price. These meals are healthy, well-balanced meals delivered right to their door. Senior centers usually have meals available at a lower rate as well.
Have you ever eaten alone for an extended period of time? It gets lonely. Loneliness can lead to depression. If possible, stop by and bring your loved one a meal as often as you can. Freeze a couple of meals and keep them in their freezer for easy access. Make sure your loved one is part of a group of some kind, whether that is a church group, neighbors, friends or a family get-together. Eating with others lifts their spirits and gives them something to look forward to throughout the week.
Another risk of eating alone may be a physical risk. Your loved one may have a hard time chewing and swallowing. If they have a condition, make sure to take them to a doctor to remedy the problem. In the meantime, have your loved one eat nutritionally sound foods such as high protein greek yogurt, soups with soft veggies, or smoothies to keep them healthy and happy.
Making quick and easy meals may also be a factor. Toast and coffee is often a go to for the elderly. That’s okay too. Just be sure to add avocado or an egg on your toast to get some healthy fats and protein in your diet. Meal-kit services are also a good choice as those meals provide you with all the ingredients you need to make a delicious meal in the right proportions as well as give your loved ones a variety of foods depending on their specific taste buds.
With so many options for ensuring a well-balanced meal, make sure your loved one is maintaining a healthy diet in an environment that is safe for them. Check on them often and bring a meal when you visit! It’s always more enjoyable to eat with company than eat alone.