As we grow older, our body and metabolism undergo a drastic change. Along with a decrease in appetite, our body takes more time to digest food. Constant change in taste preferences and side effects from medicines might make the elderly unwilling to enjoy their food.
Add to that gastric and dental problems that come with old age and slow metabolism. All these various physical and medical factors give rise to several eating disorders. As they grow older, people might be unable to enjoy the foods they enjoyed once. This lack of appetite can cause weakness and apathy in the elderly.
Paying attention to the diet of aged people is extremely important. There are special nutritional requirements that must be met. However, introducing healthy food might be of no use if your aged parents are having problems with their appetites.
If you’re worried about your parent’s lack of nutrition, this is the perfect article for you. We have put together a list of healthy and tasty meal ideas for elderly parents.
Before we start talking about meal ideas, it is important to know how to boost appetite in aging parents. Once they regain their palate, it will be easier to introduce them to a diet.
Ways To Increase Appetite In Aging Parents
1. Interactive and Entertaining Mealtimes
Enjoying your meals with your elderly parents is highly recommended. Not only does it increase their willingness to eat but also enlivens their mood. Spending time with your parents during mealtimes works wonders for their mental and physical health.
Organize interesting and fun dinner and lunches, and involve your parents in the process. Cooking together, listening to pleasant music while eating or arranging potlucks can be ways to increase their appetite.
Regular exercise is a great way to increase hunger. Staying active helps elderly people remain healthy and eat more.
A great range of fitness products is available nowadays, which allow the elderly to exercise frequently in the comfort of their homes. Here is a great article if you are unsure about what exercise equipment to get for your parents.
3. Select the Foods Carefully
Consult with a doctor or a nutritionist to come up with a balanced diet plan. Make sure there are equal portions from all the food groups. Use flavor-enhancing fruits or vegetables to add variety to their meals.
Additionally, having protein shakes and nutritional energy drinks is a great option. It energizes the elderly while whetting their appetites. It can also be a good replacement for any missing proteins and calories from their diet.
Here is an extremely helpful article about the best protein shake brands for aging parents.
Now that you have an idea on how to improve your elderly parent’s appetite, let us go into some simple but great meal ideas for elderly parents. These meal plans are designed to jazz up meals so that they can be enjoyed by elderly people. All the foods are chosen keeping the health of the elderly in mind.
A Few Meal Plans For Elderly Parents
1) Yogurt And Berries
Plain yogurt with berries and nuts (optional) of your choice is a great way to start the day. Having a heavy breakfast not only kills the appetite but also leaves the aged feeling bloated throughout the day.
A bowl of fresh yogurt and berries is light but filling, not to mention good for health. Experiment with different berries such as strawberries, blackberries etc or try using flavored yogurt. Occasionally you can try using different fruits of your parent’s choice instead of berries.
2) Cheese And Herb Omelette
While regular hard-boiled or poached eggs are great options for incorporating high protein into the diet, a cheese omelet can spice up the meals a bit. Cooking an omelet with cheese is a good way to combine protein with good fats.
Instead of simply garnishing it with salt and pepper, you might want to add some fresh herbs and vegetables as well. The herbs will treat your parents’ taste buds with some extra flavor and spice.
3) Chicken Or Shrimp Salads
This is another wonderful way to make a perfectly balanced meal. Often, elderly people find it difficult to have high protein meals like meat dishes. Whereas, simply eating vegetables can become repetitive. A chicken or shrimp salad makes for a satisfying meal.
A chicken or a shrimp salad is a combination pan-fried meat or shrimp and fresh vegetables. To make it even more nutritious, skip the usual salad dressings and use lemon juice, olive oil, and a little honey to add some taste.
Pasta might be a popular restaurant food, but it is actually a great meal for elderly people. It is soft and easy to eat for aging parents with dental problems. Instead of loading the pasta with sauce, cooking it with olive oil or butter makes for a light and healthier option.
Add plenty of vegetables of your choice. Using garlic is also a good idea as it adds flavor and is good for health. Pasta is easily digestible which makes it the perfect dinner option.
5) Mixed Fried Rice
Fried rice is the ultimate balanced meal. A single bowl of fried rice is packed with carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins. The best part of this dish is that it can be customized. Add cooked rice, meat and vegetables of your choice; sauté it with a little oil and you are good to go.
Some people even like to add some scrambled eggs for a greater depth of flavor. Fried rice provides your elderly parents with all the required nutrients. This meal does not require a side and makes for a perfect lunch or dinner.
6) Apple Crumble
Fruit-based desserts are a healthy replacement for calorie-rich desserts like cake. This popular dessert will satisfy your elderly parents’ sugar cravings. Despite being sweet and delicious, it is not harmful to their health. The dessert uses healthy ingredients like apples, brown sugar, oats, etc.
We hope our article has given you some great meal ideas for elderly parents. The dishes will vary from person to person, so plan your meals keeping your parent’s likes and dislikes in mind. It is advised that you consult a doctor before deciding the meals in case your parents are suffering from some serious medical condition. Occasionally, ask your elderly parents to lend a helping hand while preparing their meals. This will keep them active and make them excited about the meals being planned.