Senior Nutrition

Tips for Eating Well for Older Adults

Many older people have trouble eating well. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers some solutions to several common problems.

Those who have trouble chewing may have trouble eating foods, such as meat, fresh fruits and vegetables.

What one should do: Try other foods

Instead of: Try:
Bathing fruit juices and soft canned fruits, such as applesauce, peaches and pears
raw vegetables vegetable juices; creamed, mashed and cooked vegetables
meat ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and foods made with milk, such as pudding and cream soups
sliced bread cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding and soft cookies

Too much gas and other stomach problems may cause people to stay away from foods they think cause the problem. This means they could be missing out on important nutrients, such as vitamins, calcium, fiber and protein.

What one should do: Try other foods

Instead of: Try:
milk milk foods that may not upset the stomach, such as cream soups, pudding, yogurt and cheese
vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli vegetable juices and other vegetables, such as green beans, carrots and potatoes
fresh fruit fruit juices and soft canned fruits
Some people may have problems shopping for food as a result of being unable to drive or having trouble walking or standing for a long time.

What one should do:

  • Request a local food store deliver groceries to the home. Some stores provide this service for free, while others may charge a fee.
  • A church, synagogue or local volunteer center can be contacted with a request for volunteer help.
  • A family member or neighbor can provide help with shopping.
  • Relevar Home Care can be hired to provide shopping assistance.
Problems with cooking can include difficulty holding cooking utensils, pots and pans or trouble standing for long periods of time.

What one should do:

  • A microwave oven can be used to cook TV dinners, other frozen foods and foods made ahead of time by the store.
  • Group meal programs offered through senior citizen programs can provide cooked meals, either at their location or brought to the home.
  • Relevar Home Care can provide a caregiver who can cook nutritious meals in the comfort of the home.
  • Moving to a place where someone else will cook, such as a family member’s home or a home for senior citizens, can be considered.
Older people who live alone sometimes feel lonely at mealtimes, a feeling which can result in loss of appetite. Or they may not feel like making meals for just themselves. Maybe the food prepared has no flavor or tastes bad. This could be caused by medicines they are taking.

What one should do:

  • Eat with family and friends.
  • Take part in group meal programs offered through senior citizen programs.
  • Ask a doctor if medicines could be causing appetite or taste problems. If so, ask about changing medicines.
  • Increase the flavor of food by adding spices and herbs.
  • Contact Relevar Home Care to get a companion to not only prepare meals, but to participate in making meal time a social time.

Web Resources

Online Nutritional Screening
An interactive MNA screening form provided by the Nestle Nutrition Institute allows users to find out if they are healthy or malnourished.

Healthy Meals for One or Two
Great information from the Mayo Clinic on how to plan healthy meals for one or two, reduce wasted food and add variety to meals.

Eating Well While Aging
Informative article on senior nutrition offers tips and advice for maintaining a healthy diet while dealing with the challenges of aging.

Evaluating and Treating Unintentional Weight Loss in the Elderly
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers this informative nutritional assessment and report detailing unintentional weight loss in aging adults.

Nutrition and Aging
Informative overview on nutrition, malnutrition and health in older adults, provided by the Foundation for Health in Aging.