15 Tips You Should Follow When Cooking for Seniors

As people age, their diet often changes.  If you have been given the responsibility of cooking for an older person, you may worry that you aren’t meeting their nutrition needs appropriately.

A cook sautees onions and peppers.
A cook sautees onions and peppers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listed below are 15 tips that you should follow when cooking for seniors. Allow these tips to aide in creating the perfect meals for older people.

  • Focus on the nutritional value of the food. Seniors need the best nutrition available to help maintain a healthy body.  In fact, as they get older, the more each and every calorie will count.  When planning meals for the elderly, ensure that they are healthy.
  • Cook things that they like. Just because they are older doesn’t mean that they won’t have preferences in food. Allow the seniors that you are caring for to have a hand in planning the menu.
  • Softer food may be appropriate. If they have dentures or other dentals problems, making food softer will be your challenge.  Find creative ways to make the food softer without altering the taste of the food.
  • Cut back on the spices. Older people may not be able to tolerate too many spices.  Focus on making the food tasty using natural flavors instead of adding in tons of spices.
  • Serve plenty of vegetables. Vegetables are a key component of the health of all people, including senior adults.  Vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals that can help the seniors live a healthier lifestyle.
  • Cut meat into small pieces.  Meat often poses a challenge for seniors.  Cut meat into small pieces instead of just putting large chunks onto their place.  Chewing is often an issue as they become older.
  • Follow the doctor’s orders.  If the doctor has prescribed a specific diet, be sure that you follow this diet wholeheartedly.  The diet is for the health and wellbeing of the patient.  Stick to the diet at all costs!
  • Serve a variety of food. Don’t feed them the same meals over and over again. A variety of food will keep them interested in eating and also help promote good nutrition.
  • Be aware of food allergies. You don’t want to serve food that they are allergic to. Keep a list of allergies handy when planning the meals.
  • Be cautious of serving hot foot. Food that is too hot can burn mouths and cause injury.  Some elderly people may not be able to tell when the food is too hot because of a loss of sensation.  Serve food at the right temperature. Not too hot and not too cold.
  • Allow them to help when possible. Some seniors may want to help you prepare the healthy food.  Allow them to do what they can. This will help them to feel more independent and also give them the feeling that they are helping you out.
  • Remove bones and other choking hazards. This is an obvious part of the cooking process.  You don’t want to feed bones and other choking hazard to anyone, much less an elderly person. Older people may struggle with chewing and accidentally swallow a bone.  Remove all bones before you serve it to them.
  • Don’t serve a lot of red meat. An excess of red meat will only promote health problems.  Choose to serve older people lean meat, poultry, and fish rather than red meat.  If you do serve red meat, choose to serve it a couple of times a month at the most.
  • Serve healthy desserts.  Many older people struggle with sugar problems and diabetes.  Choose to serve healthy desserts such as fruit and yogurt.  Overly sweet desserts will only cause more health problems.

Use the 15 tips above when cooking for seniors.  Their health and nutrition is in your hands.  Focus on making each and every meal selection healthy.  Allow seniors to get involved in the planning and meal preparing process when possible.

Don’t forget to consult with doctors about specific diets and also know food allergies so that you don’t put seniors at risk when cooking for them. These tips, combined with the others above, will help you to prepare the perfect meals.

This is a guest post by Susan.

Susan is a part-time Elder care provider and content developer for http://www.1001walkingcanes.com/blog/ an online store of medical walking sticks and canes for Elderly.