Eating habits change for a number of reasons as we grow older.
We all know how important it is to establish and maintain healthy eating habits, but sadly, a full 25% of older adults suffer from malnutrition, according to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging. Whether the problem is eating too little, too much, or the wrong types of foods, poor nutrition for seniors can result in weakened bones and muscles, an increased risk of serious health concerns like diabetes, and more.
The reasons for these nutritional struggles are as varied as the individuals experiencing them. For some, medication side effects impact appetite. For others, dental problems make chewing difficult. And for many, the loss of a spouse results in a lost desire to prepare healthy meals for just herself.
At Nightingale Homecare, our Phoenix, AZ home care specialists offer the following suggestions to help your senior loved ones maintain optimal health by ensuring his or her nutritional needs are met:
Fiber up! Consuming plenty of foods high in soluble fiber will help keep cholesterol in check and prevent constipation and other health problems. Older adults should strive to include at least one of the following types of foods with each meal:
Beans or lentils
Whole grains, oats or oat bran
Seeds or nuts
Fruits and vegetables
Convenience doesn’t have to mean fast food! For seniors who prefer the convenience of ready-made foods, there are a number of healthy options to consider over fast food or prepackaged foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat, such as:
Bags of fresh chopped veggies for salad, coleslaw, or steaming
Fully cooked rotisserie or grilled chicken or turkey
Canned or frozen low-sodium/low-sugar fruits and vegetables
Low-sodium cans of soup or stew
Find a friend! Preparing meals (and eating them) in isolation transforms mealtimes from something enjoyable to something to dread. Share as many meals with your loved one as possible, and seek out other companions for your loved one – neighbors, other family members, friends from religious organizations, etc.
At Nightingale Homecare, we can help implement all of these ideas, and more. Whether the need is for shopping for healthy, convenient foods, preparing nutritious meals, or providing friendly companionship during mealtime, partner with the Phoenix, AZ home care team at Nightingale Homecare and ensure that your senior loved one stays as healthy and happy as possible! Take the first step by calling us at (602) 504-1555 to request a free in-home consultation and discover the difference our professional in-home care services can make in your senior loved one’s life.
Age and decreased activity can increase seniors’ risk for heart disease, but there are simple steps to take, such as improved nutrition, that can make a world of difference. Eating a diet that helps prevent heart disease is easier than you think. These simple strategies, courtesy of the Surprise home health care team at Nightingale Homecare, will have your senior loved one well on the way to a heart-healthy diet.
Choose fats wisely. We’re all aware of the need to cut back on fats that are dangerous to our health, such as trans fats, but there are actually healthy alternatives that we should all include in our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids (those found in avocados, olive and canola oil, nuts and fish), consumed in small amounts, are the best choice.
Eat your veggies. And fruits, too! The recommendation is two servings of fruit, especially those with dark-colored skin, and between three and five veggies, particularly non-starchy options such as broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, and dark, leafy greens.
Think natural. Processed foods are typically heavy on salt content, along with other unhealthy additives. Choosing foods in their natural state helps prevent an overconsumption of salt, which is typically anything over 2,300 mg per day (or 1,500 mg per day for those at increased risk of heart disease).
Go lean with protein. Saturated fats found in red meat and many dairy products clog arteries. Better choices for protein include fish, skinless chicken, soy, nuts, and beans.
Fiber up! Soluble fiber provides the heart-healthy benefit of lowering LDL and triglycerides. Beans, oat bran and steel-cut oats, barley, and a variety of fruits and vegetables are great options.
Whether your loved one could benefit from just a few hours each week of assistance, or if more in-depth care is needed up to 24 hours each day, we’re on hand to help. Contact us for a free in-home assessment at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.
It’s that wonderful time of year once again when tables are laden with all of those delicious traditions: turkey with all the trimmings, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie. But for older adults with special dietary requirements, it can be hard to stick to a prescribed eating plan while enjoying the holiday festivities.
Heat ¼ of the water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook about 3 minutes, until tender. Add the rest of the water, pumpkin, broth, cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then add the milk and cook through (do not boil) until hot. Serve topped with green onion and black pepper.
Balsamic Roasted Turkey
1 whole turkey
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 – 4 garlic cloves
½ cup water
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup defatted pan drippings
3 tbsp. brown sugar
Rub turkey with oil, a sprig of rosemary, and the garlic cloves. Place remaining rosemary and garlic in the turkey’s cavity and roast until done. While turkey is resting, deglaze the pan with ½ cup of water and separate out fit with a gravy separator. Warm together 1 cup of defatted pan drippings with brown sugar and vinegar, and drizzle over sliced turkey.
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. dried tarragon
½ tsp. paprika
1⁄8 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ cup chopped cranberries
1 cup water chestnuts
1 cup chopped apple
10 slices toasted whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
Cook celery and onion in chicken broth in large skillet about 5 minutes and remove from heat. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and add in onion/celery/broth mixture. Cover with foil and bake in 2-quart baking dish for 20 minutes, and then uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.
For more holiday meal tips for seniors, contact the Arizona home health care experts at Nightingale Homecare. We love helping older adults throughout the Phoenix area remain healthy – during the holidays, and throughout the year. We’re available to plan and prepare nutritious meals, provide friendly companionship to brighten each day, assist with personal care needs as well as medical needs met by a registered nurse, and so much more. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to let us know how we can help your senior loved one!
If you are caring for an elder loved one, nutrition is likely one of your biggest concerns. There are many factors that lead to a senior’s nutritional needs being met. Loss of appetite due to medications, chronic illness, or changes in bowel habits can create challenges. Your loved one may also have lost interest in preparing meals, or may not be able to use kitchen appliances or utensils such as knives safely. Summertime in the valley of the sun is another reason for loss of appetite, as the increased temperatures diminish appetite and also drive us all out of the kitchen and away from a hot stove.
Nightingale Homecare, the top rated Arizona home care agency, wants to help! We’ve compiled several of our favorite simple, delicious, healthy summer recipes. Enjoy!
INGREDIENTS: Granola, yogurt and favorite fruit: blueberries, bananas, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, etc.
PREPARATION: Layer equal portions in a parfait glass.
You can drizzle with maple syrup, cream or top with whipped cream!
Unless you are using bananas, these can be prepared in advance. Just cover and refrigerate.
Tapas Plate with Marinated Chickpeas This simple dish offered by realsimple.com is a great summertime option that can be made and plated in advance for your loved one to just pull from the fridge.
INGREDIENTS: 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
½ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
½ pound Manchego cheese, sliced
¼ pound thinly sliced Serrano ham or prosciutto
½ cup mixed olives
½ small loaf country bread
PREPARATION: In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, raisins, roasted peppers, parsley, scallions, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Serve with the cheese, ham, olives, and bread.
Zucchini Lasagna with Farmer Cheese
Martha Stewart offers this no cooking required recipe for “lasagna” made of garden-fresh zucchini and tomatoes, layered with creamy farmer cheese and basil leaves.
INGREDIENTS: Farmer’s cheese
Salt and pepper
PREPARATION: Season farmer’s cheese with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Layer 2 strips zucchini with cheese, sliced tomatoes, and basil. Repeat; top with zucchini. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil.
Mini Frozen Key Lime Pies Epicurious offers this summertime favorite no-bake dessert. These mini pies can be prepared weeks in advance and frozen for your loved one to remove from the freezer when he or wants a sweet treat!
INGREDIENTS: 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 8 crackers)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons finely grated key lime zest, divided
1/3 cup fresh key lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
PREPARATION: Melt butter and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave-safe bowl. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs form. With the motor running, drizzle in butter-honey mixture and process until well combined. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add condensed milk and beat until smooth. Add key lime juice and lemon juice and beat to combine. Beat in 2 tbsp. key lime zest.
Using a whisk or electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip cream in another medium bowl to very soft peaks. Sprinkle powdered sugar over cream and continue to whip until it holds stiff peaks. Gently fold ½ cup cream into key lime mixture; cover remaining cream and chill.
Line muffin pan with paper liners. Pour key lime mixture into a pastry bag or plastic bag with the corner snipped off and pipe batter evenly into tins. Top each with 1 ½ tbsp. cracker crumb mixture, breaking up crumbs to completely cover, then press down gently to adhere. Freeze until set, at least 3 hours.
Remove pies from molds, turn upside down, and remove paper liners. Spread reserved cream over pies and top with remaining 1 tbsp. key lime zest.
Even though it takes a little more planning to prepare these and other healthy summer recipes for your senior loved one, it’s nice to enjoy the flavors of the season and take a cooking break! And Nightingale Homecare is on hand to help in a variety of ways: picking up groceries, preparing and serving nutritious meals, and even cleaning up the kitchen afterwards, just to name a few. Call on the top rated Arizona home care agency, Nightingale Homecare, at (602) 504-1555 to learn more!
If you’re providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, you’re likely to encounter some very noticeable and highly demanding behaviors. Sundowning, emotional outbursts, and wandering, for example, all require caregivers to jump into immediate action.
One issue that can take second stage, but should be addressed with just as much urgency, is nutritional challenges. Extremely common for seniors with dementia, nutritional challenges that are overlooked can cause additional, sometimes serious, health issues. The professional Phoenix elder care team at Nightingale Homecare provides a full range of specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, including assistance with eating. We’ve broken down the top concerns for you, and how to overcome them.
No Appetite. Although it’s true that the elderly in general have a reduced caloric requirement, those with Alzheimer’s disease may also lack interest in food due to sensory and motor skill issues, memory loss, and confusion.
How to Help:
Allow the senior to assist in some way with preparing the meal, according to his or her abilities.
Turn on some quiet background music.
Set the table with flowers, a favorite knick-knack, or small picture.
Serve smaller portions, one dish at a time.
Unhealthy Eating. Some Alzheimer’s patients will want to eat only sweets, or may overindulge in other less than healthy food choices.
How to Help:
Try substitutes for favored unhealthy food choices, such as non-sweet cereal, chunks of bright-colored melon or berries, or sugar-free treats.
Cover packaging for less healthy foods, such as wrapping cookie packages in plain paper, or place those food items out of sight and reach.
Offer plenty of healthy snacks throughout the day, such as carrot sticks or applesauce.
Mealtime Messes. Problems with chewing and swallowing, or with managing utensils, can result in more food spilled than going into the person with Alzheimer’s.
How to Help:
Utilize strong plastic dinnerware, a plastic tablecloth and placemat, in contrasting colors.
Purchase specialized eating utensils that are modified for those with eating difficulties.
Try plates with divided sections and raised edges to keep food from being pushed off onto the table or floor.
Place small suction cups beneath the plate to secure it in place.
For more tips on improving mealtimes for those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, call on the Phoenix elder care experts at Nightingale Homecare. Our team is comprised of professionally trained Alzheimer’s Whisperers® in our Connections dementia care program, uniquely trained using Dr. Verna Benner-Carson’s nationally acclaimed approach to gentle, compassionate dementia care. We’re here to help make life easier, safer, and more fulfilling for those with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them. Contact us at 602-504-1555 to learn more and begin to experience success in living with dementia!
A Nightingale representative would be happy to answer your questions or help you arrange for home care that is custom-fit to your needs.