Tips on How to Start Meal Planning for Your Senior Loved One
Caring for a senior loved one comes with a number of big responsibilities and a number of unique tasks that are often quite new to familial caregivers. If you are looking after your senior parent or loved one, then one of the first, and often most important responsibilities you will need to take on is meal planning.
As many seniors start to age, they struggle with buying, cooking and preparing their own meals. Even if you don’t live with your loved one, if you are worried about their ability to eat on their own or have noticed frequent weight loss, it may be time to step in and help with meal prep. Meal prep can help your loved one get some variety in their meals and eat healthier all while saving time and money.
Malnutrition is actually one of the fastest growing issues among the senior community as more and more elderly adults are not getting the nutrients they need to stay their healthiest. Proper nutrition can help with everything from diabetes and cancer to osteoporosis and dementia, which is where senior meal prep comes in. By taking the time to make balanced, prepared meals for your loved one that can easily heat up, you can make sure that your loved one is eating balanced meals, even when you can’t be there to cook for them.
Here are a few tips to help with your meal prep:
- Make sure to include one protein, a healthy carbohydrate like brown rice or quinoa and vegetables and every meal.
- Portion out your loved one’s servings and place them in easy-to-heat up containers.
- Make sure to mark every container with “breakfast,” “lunch,” “dinner,” and “snack,” to avoid confusion.
- Don’t be afraid to add a desert or two into your loved one’s meal, just because they are eating healthy it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a few treats.
- Try to keep the meals varied so your loved one doesn’t get bored.
- When in doubt, keep your meals simple, as long as your loved one is eating, that is what is important.
- While you may be worried about your loved one eating enough, it is also important to make sure that they aren’t eating too much. This is especially important if your loved one suffers from dementia or other related memory problems and may not realize how much they are eating.
- Make sure the meals are easy for your loved one to prepare or that they can be eaten cold, so you can make sure they are actively eating the meals you make for them. If your meals have prep instructions, make sure to write them out for your loved one.
Little tips like this can go a long way in helping any senior caregiver with their meal prep efforts. The more you can do in order to prepare healthy, balanced meals that your loved one will eat and enjoy, the healthier they can stay.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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