Not only do seniors have to prepare their own food, but they have limited mobility and equipment, which makes meal prep very difficult. The process often needs to be simplified so the senior is not tempted to eat out because he or she is so busy making decisions about what to order. For this reason, seniors often prefer buying meals at their grocery stores and takeout options at restaurants.
The hottest trends in the restaurant industry right now are all about reducing food waste. Restaurant menus offer simpler, but healthier, options for meals that are affordable to everyone. Many establishments also understand that seniors need to eat fresh, locally grown foods and are offering fresh, clear labels from third parties. Construction challenges for restaurants – largely due to weather – make meal preparation time consuming, dangerous, and expensive. Some establishments are even redesigning their menus to be more transparent and reduce driving time. Restaurant menu redesigns eliminate filler items by putting them on special meals. Those special meals can often contain a variety of protein choices, healthy fats, whole grains, colorful vegetables, and even desserts. Knowing menus are under constant construction is key to getting the most bang for your buck. Choosing options created by the establishment allows your senior to make better decisions about his or her meals and need in home health care St. Louis.
As the leading source of protein for the elderly, salmon has an enviable reputation. In fact, Lone Pine Seafood in Hawaii has meal kits that include salmon steaks, salmon tacos, salmon burgers, salmon chowder, salmon salad, salmon cakes, salmon cookies with brown sugar and more. Health benefits of salmon are myriad, the fish is a high-calorie fish that is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fats, and its high levels of selenium are associated with a reduced risk of developing various cancers. Salmon alone contains more antioxidants than grapes or red wine, per a study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. However, many seniors choose not to consume seafood as part of their regular diet because they worry about mercury levels. Mercury in fish can accumulate in the body, increasing the risk of developing certain cancers and cognitive function impairment. For this reason, seniors may think reducing levels of mercury in their body is best. When the worry of mercury is eliminated, seniors can become satisfied with lower-sodium fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, and albacore tuna.
Protein sources also include shellfish, such as oysters, mussels, clams, and turtle eggs. They are budget-friendly and very nutritious for people of all ages.
NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts and seeds are also high in protein and have different nutrition profiles per serving.
A 2016 study found that 73% of senior citizens would choose a fast-food meal over a healthful meal at a restaurant. And for 70% of people, a healthful meal at a restaurant was less convenient than dining out. Young adults, on average, prefer their fast food around the corner, which is the neighborhood restaurant or restaurant with the drive-thru. Restaurant customers are older adults, people who don’t need as much time to eat. And time is a valued factor for seniors who are confined to their homes most of the day.
For many seniors, a normal meal plan consists of one main meal a day. Lunch and dinner, followed by the occasional large snack. Many find that these two meals are their only break from kids playing or TV watching. Eating away from home is a struggle for many seniors.
As a result, seniors often order takeout. Or they rely on delivery services or curbside pickup where less coordination is needed. And pantry staples like egg dishes, bread, pasta, corn on the cob, rolls, fruits, vegetables, condiments, and sauces can be delicate and pricey. Waiting in long lines and transporting all of this can cause frustration and unease. Being able to address these health issues as they arise is critical for older adults.
For seniors who do cook, cooking at home presents fewer problems. With sharp tools, high-quality ingredients, and time, an at-home meal can be a lot more pleasant. Also, cooking allows you to incorporate healthier ingredients and strategies which can help maintain good health.
If you live in an area where food trucks have become popular, snacks such as granola bars, granola, or crackers can be cooked at home to provide many Americans a new and virtually unlimited source of calories. In a New Yorker article on snacks, Jessie Nathan, MS, RD, LD describes snacks such as these as “an affordable, robust way to fill up during the pandemic.” Nathan notes that many people cook snacks just for themselves, so a night out can mean a night of creative snack-making. Most snacks are either unhealthy or less nutritious than packaged alternatives. But residents of nursing homes can have a unique opportunity to cook nutritious snacks regardless of where they live.
Nursing homes have special restrictions on the type of foods that can be prepared in their institutions. Food must be prepared according to strict protocols or they risks being served or may need an adult daycare programs.
I was once at a senior citizens’ event where it was pointed out to a senior citizen that although it was relatively easy to order food at a restaurant, it was much more difficult to gather and eat in a room full of other people who had nothing to do but order food. The small thing, I think, betrayed the disconnect conveyed that I needed something pre-packaged, something that I could put in a separate container on the way to the event and, just as easily, take home, pour myself a cup of coffee, and start cooking. And if I save this “gathering place,” I can fill it up with my meal and (again, hopefully) avoid eating meat.
Being young and having to travel is no way to spend many years in one location. My wife and I initially wanted to go home to visit my grandparents in their home state of Texas. There was a stop in the plan at least because of the risk of a nasty virus. Flights and transfers became an issue. But we made it happen. We got in a weird spot but, somehow we survived the pandemic. (One thing I know for certain is, long after the pandemic is over, I will still survive. My 70+ year old grandmother, 81, and her 21 year old son will be chronically ill. She is in no condition to leave her home for any reason and is not lifting weights. We barely escaped with our lives and that was with help from the Panhandleso Health Department and a good Samaritan.)
Before the pandemic, 40% of seniors aged 65 and older reported having little to no social contact with others and only 41% had friends or family willing to “hang out” with them.
Although senior citizens can choose either to cook at home or eat in restaurants, many choose the latter choice. From myself and my wife, we made the decision to cook at home more often. And one of the reasons was that during chemotherapy we were sicker than ever before. While my wife could cook, I could not and although my cooking skills have done a surprisingly good job, I could not match the level of skill or finesse of my wife. Therefore, the dining room was our gathering space. During the summer in particular, we make a big event of going to a restaurant for a big family dinner and, whether we were seated at a good restaurant or not, we had to be there for the scene unfolding in front of us with eldercare service providers in St. Louis.
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