Holidays with Seniors: A Successful Thanksgiving

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Holidays with Seniors: A Successful Thanksgiving

id-100292834It’s Thanksgiving again!  Millions of families across the country–and expats all over the world for that matter–are preparing themselves for turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, candied yams, and I won’t even mention the desserts!  Year after year, it’s the same routine that we all know and love and stress over.  That is, of course, until something or someone throws the routine for a loop.  The common cause: an aging loved one, who is perhaps no longer the independent, lucid and physically capable person they’ve always been.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans this year who is more worried about preparing for Nana or Uncle Joe than you are about preparing your pie crust, don’t worry; there is plenty of advice out there to help you.  I’ve sifted through much of it and plucked out what I think are the most helpful tips.

Preparing meals for seniors

There are some things you should know about preparing meals for seniors.  The first thing is that seniors do not metabolize food in the same way that they once did.  And what’s more, their taste buds might not be as sensitive to flavors as in years past.  Don’t be surprised or offended or upset then when your loved one doesn’t attack your casserole like he or she used to.  In fact, you might want to think about preparing something special for your loved one, to cater to his or her changing dietary habits and needs.  Here are some tips taken from http://www.associatedcontent.com/:

  1. Make food that is easy to chew and swallow.  Dentures and reduced saliva production might make tough and dry foods difficult.
  2. Use less salt.  You don’t want to cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure or worsen water retention.  Remember, you can always salt the food on your own plate later.
  3. Add more seasoning.  To make up for the lower salt, aging taste buds and the dulling effect of some prescription medications, use savory, but not spicy, seasonings to provide more flavor.
  4. Use recipes rich with nutrition.  Seniors need to eat food that is high in nutritional content and calories to make up for their often reduced appetites.

www.nutritiondata.com is a good source for information on the nutritional and caloric content of food.  Check AARPs recipe site for great Thanksgiving recipes for seniors.

Ask questions.  Take a moment to ask your loved one what they enjoy eating these days.  If they always loved a particular dish, ask them if they still do.  Ask them if there is anything they don’t like.

 By Deborah McLean

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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