Approximately 3.7 million American seniors were diagnosed with malnutrition in 2012, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Seniors are more likely to take medications, have chronic health conditions, and live in poverty, so these challenges make it more difficult for seniors to meet nutritional needs than other age groups. Caregivers, family members, and seniors must work together to make the most of meals and snacks in order to meet the nutritional needs of seniors.
Avoid Convenience Foods
Unfortunately, many seniors live alone, which can make it less appealing to take the time to cook elaborate meals. Seniors often fall into the trap of relying on boxed or frozen convenience foods. These convenience foods are often low in nutrients and high in fat, sodium, and other contents that may be harmful to the health of seniors. Avoiding these foods and opting for fresher foods can help seniors to get more from their meals.
Invest in Freezer Bags
Making large meals and then freezing portions can make mealtimes much easier for seniors, especially when dining alone. Meals that are made fresh and then frozen do not contain the same preservatives and harmful contents as convenience foods, but can be just as convenient. Freezing meals can also help seniors to save money and waste less, as food lasts much longer when frozen than when refrigerated.
Cut Fresh Produce Ahead of Time
Eating more fresh vegetables and fruits is one of the best ways to make the most of meals and snacks. However, peeling and cutting fruits and vegetables can be time consuming, which may be a deterrent when seniors are hungry. Cutting fresh fruits and vegetables ahead of time and storing them in bags and containers makes it easier to just grab and eat, which can greatly improve the quality of snacks. Care should be taken to make sure that too much is not cut up at a time, however, as cut fruits and vegetables spoil much faster than whole produce. Certain tricks may help to preserve some items, such as wrapping an avocado with an onion or rubbing citrus juices on apples to prevent browning.
Make Meals Nutrient Dense
Since seniors do not need to eat as much food as other age groups, it is important that each meal and snack be as nutrient dense as possible. Cooking soups and making salads that contain a large number of different fruits, vegetables, and proteins can help seniors to more easily meet nutritional needs. Taking one day out of the week to make enough soup or salad for seniors to eat a little each day of the week can help to ensure that seniors receive the nutrition that they need.