As a caregiver, one of your main duties may be preparing healthy, nutritious meals for your loved one. Diet and proper nutrition are very important in day-to-day caregiving. However, if you are working full-time and are also a caregiver, you may have limited time to prepare meals.
Here are two resources if you have time constraints and are on a limited budget. Consider Meals On Wheel or the Angel Food Ministries. Both offer healthy nutritious meals for seniors. For a Meals On Wheel program in your area, go to http://www.mowaa.org/page.aspx?pid=253 and type in your zip code.
Also, the Angel Food Ministries offers prepackaged meals for seniors. The meals are microwavable. Go to http://www.angelfoodministries.com/hosts.asp?msgid=88416 and type in your zip code to find the nearest pick-up location. You can order online and pick-up is monthly.
According to Caregiver.com, ʺmore than 40 percent of older adults are not getting adequate amounts of three or more nutrients.ʺ
If you feel your loved one is not receiving the proper diet, consider hiring a registered dietitian. A dietitian can visit your home and advise you on the best foods for your loved one. This person can develop individual plans for the finicky eater. The dietitian can also offer tips and tricks if your loved one is not eating.
Here are recommendations for those caring for finicky eaters:
• Cook meals high in taste and easy to digest. Avoid bland and sour food.
• Prepare the patient's favorite meals and foods.
• Develop two snack times - mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Try an assortment of healthy snacks.
• Compare food calories to exercise calories (incorporate the calories they burn daily). Make sure there is a proper balance or your loved one will gain weight.
As people get older they may develop swallowing or digestive issues. Here are some tips to prevent these problems:
• Allow time between bites
• To stimulate swallowing, gentle massage the throat area downward
• Offer a beverage to wash down food
• Serve a milk shake or fruit smoothie with the meal to wash down food
• As part of their meal, incorporate as many of their favorite foods as possible
• Use bowls instead of plates
• Only use the utensils you will need
• Make lunch the largest meal of the day
• Keep a food diary
• Take notes on which foods are difficult to swallow
• Keep track of any food causing diarrhea or constipation
• If necessary, puree foods or thicken foods with applesauce
• Ask the dietician to review the food diary
Finally, Caregiver.com offers a plethora of easy to make recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts. Go to http://www.caregiver.com/kitchen/index.htm. At this web page, you will also find diet and nutrition tips, eating right on the road tips, assistance in the vitamin aisle, and much more.
Reviewed July 20, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle