Cooking For Elderly Parents

Cooking for our loved ones is one of the greatest joys we can easily attain. When we are able to make delicious and healthy meals, as well as knowing we’re doing our part in taking care of the people we love, we will be filled with a sense of satisfaction.

Preparing meals for the ones we love is usually a very simple thought process. We’d ask ourselves “What do they love?” and work from there. However, cooking for seniors like our parents or grandparents, would require us to take more things into consideration.

Although healthy eating should always be a priority, as we age, our dietary requirements and nutritional needs will change. This is the part that we need to prioritise when cooking for our elders.

 

Stepping Up Your Cooking Game for Your Elders

Cooking for our elders is a whole different ball game. It requires some well thought out planning, a little research and some patience.

Healthy diet

Our elderly loved ones need some tender, loving care in the food they eat. Store bought meals, while convenient, may not consider their nutritional needs. We do not have control over how much salt, sugar or MSG is used. They may use some ingredients that may not be great for certain types of health conditions.

Letting your elderly loved ones cook for themselves may be a bit of a problem too. Having been so used to cooking, they might be accustomed to habits like adding a certain amount of seasoning or use of certain spices and ingredients that their health may not allow them to consume much of anymore.

 

Upgrading your skills

 

 

Cooking for our ageing loved ones is a great opportunity to upgrade your skills in the kitchen. Not only will you learn techniques and methods to make healthy food for them, you might even learn the ones they have been using. You can learn the little tips and secrets that make their recipes taste distinctly their own.

Take this golden opportunity to tweak their favourite recipes and foods and make it healthier for them while maintaining the distinct flavours and taste that they love. It may not be a hundred percent the same but it might even turn out better.

 

Plan Their Meals

 

 

One of the best ways to help you with preparing meals for your older loved ones is to plan out their meals. It’s actually a fun process if done right. Here are a few things you’ll want to take note of.

Nutrition

When preparing and planning out meals for our elders, we’ll first need to be aware of their overall health condition. You can take them to the doctor’s, get them evaluated and take the opportunity to ask the doctor for their professional advice on your loved one’s diet.

The risk of developing certain health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer increases as we get older. That is why a healthy diet and nutritional needs factor in the most when we plan out their meals. Having the right diet can even help to slow down the ageing of the brain. Research suggests that having a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon and spinach, can play a protective role against the development of dementia.

The right diet can also benefit our elders in their mobility. Consumption of calcium and vitamin D rich foods like milk, eggs, fish and vegetables can help maintain peak bone mass. You can also stock up on high protein, versatile and accessible foods. Leslie Bonci, former speaker for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends cheese, eggs, chopped chicken, canned tuna (which come in many flavours) and tofu.

Overall Health Condition

Although most foods play their part as a preventative measure, some foods are more specific to a certain state of health. For example, someone with a heart condition may require a low-sodium diet to help them manage their heart health. This means you’d need to ensure that the meals prepared for them do not contain excessive salt or opt for low-sodium ingredients like Naturel Organic Pasta Sauce range.

Being a healthy weight is important for good health at any age but even more so in the elderly. According to elder.org, “There’s an increased risk of disease, delays in recovery and adverse effects on wellbeing for those who are underweight or malnourished. For those carrying excess weight, there’s an increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and type two diabetes.”

Tip Bits

When it comes to making sure our elders are fed well with healthy and delicious foods, we could all use a few shortcuts here and there. Read on for some tips to help ease things up for you.

  • Add slices of fruits with their snacks. To ensure they are nibbling on healthy snacks between meals, add in some fruits. Fruits contain a lot of vitamins and fibres that will be beneficial for their overall health.
  • Reduce sodium intake by seasoning their meals with herbs or lemon juice. Foods would still be tasty but with reduced health risks.
  • Try natural sweeteners like Naturel Organic Coconut Nectar to help reduce sugar intake. They can still enjoy some drinks and desserts with a healthy twist. Sweeteners like this contain low Glycemic Index (GI) which is perfect for our elders.
  • Keep them company. Make mealtime enjoyable for them with conversations and watching tv together. The company will help our elders feel more connected and put them in a better mood to eat.
  • Go with the flow. Find out what they want to eat for a particular time. For example, if they say that cool foods soothe their stomachs, offer them chilled fruits when they feel uncomfortable or have an upset stomach.
  • Entice their senses. Bonci says “For instance, just heating some minced garlic, which you can buy ready-made in a tube, in some oil fills the house with a wonderful aroma and stimulates appetite.”

As the circle of life goes, someday we might need to eat differently too, so it’s best we start practising now. In the meantime, caring for our ageing loved ones is a small token of appreciation for everything they have done for us.

Though helping them change their diets can be challenging, it is not impossible to help them enjoy the lifestyle change. Taking them for long walks and strolls around with scenic views, playing games with them and even taking them travelling can help them stay active, keep their mind sharp and their mental health at optimum level.