Favorite recipes can provide comfort, spark happy memories and bring people together. Most holidays are celebrated with a family meal, and the memories surrounding those meals can often be some of the happiest times in ones life.  When a Caregiver makes the effort to get to know their client or loved ones favorites and individual preferences, mealtime can truly enhance ones quality of life. A great approach is to include the senior in their care in the meal planning, asking them to share some of their favorite recipes. For those who are still able, assisting in the preparation of those foods is also a delightful activity.  Many seniors will enjoy sharing stories associated with the memories the foods bring back to them. This gives the caregiver an opportunity to get to know their client better, and what is important to them.

Caregivers do however, needs to keep the senior’s medical needs in mind when cooking for them. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, for example may have special dietary restrictions. Tis does not mean that they cannot enjoy their favorite foods, but some adjustments and liberties may need to be taken with recipes so that they can be enjoyed and still keep them healthy and on track with their diets. While most seniors are content eating what they are familiar with, you can also attempt to introduce some new recipes to keep things interesting. Consider buying a cookbook or culinary magazine (pictures are important- we eat with our eyes first!) and make an activity of reviewing the recipes and deciding on ones that your client may enjoy. The recipes if needed can be adapted to meet diet restrictions. Some may be successes, others might fail, but either way the activity itself will be fun for you and your client or loved one.

My mother has both high blood pressure and diabetes. She LOVES her baked goods and sweets. As we get older our taste buds wane, so seniors with a sweet tooth are more likely to overindulge to satisfy their cravings. My mother’s doctor recommends that she stay away from food with added sugar completely, but she can swap out her cookies and cake for foods that are naturally sweet, such as fruit (perhaps with a dab of sugar free whipped topping), or consider sugar free alternatives like jello pudding. There are also many ways that flavor can be added to food without upping the salt content. Adding spices such as garlic and ginger can significantly improve the taste of a recipe, while keeping the sodium level down. Consider that presentation can also truly make a world of difference, making something look appealing on the plate with lots color variety and perhaps even garnishes, can up the enjoyment level of a meal by leaps and bounds. You can get creative with garnishes, such as colorful shaved beets which are edible of course and loaded with vitamins our bodies need.

Good nutrition is vital to the health and well-being of the elderly.  Seniors do require fewer calories, yet require more protein, calcium, and other nutrients than they did in their younger years. Preventing malnutrition and taking important medical diet recommendations seriously, should be a primary goal of every caregiver. This effort can help avoid major health issues in the future, such as a heart attack or stroke, and ensure that your client or loved one is happy and healthy!

Are you looking for home care and house calls “near me”? Allegiance Aging Care Services is located at  20 Pidgeon Hill Dr Suite 208, Sterling, VA 20165. This privately-owned home care agency serves the greater Northern Virginia area around the Route 7 corridor. To learn more or for a free consultation, call (703) 539-6029 or contact us through our contact page here. We’re nearby, and we’re here for you.

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