Bon Appétit! Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Aging Seniors

At Home Instead, we’re big fans of grandma’s cooking. There’s nothing like enjoying a freshly-made pecan pie every Thanksgiving or a warm bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese.

But it’s also true that the bland meals served in hospitals and nursing homes have their strong points. Seniors have more delicate digestive systems that can’t accommodate spicy or heavy foods as easily. Seniors also have particular nutrition needs that we might tend to forget in our own day-to-day meals. Thankfully, with a few key rules of thumb and an assortment of tasty senior-friendly recipes, you’ll be on your way to making meals with your loved one that you’ll be wanting to enjoy, too!

A Few Cooking Tips

# 1 Cut the Salt

Traditional table salt can have a harmful impact on senior’s blood pressure, something many seniors are already watching and monitoring with medications. Due to diminished taste as you get older, there’s a temptation to over-salt dishes, but its impact on heart health is never worth it. Swap out the table salt with a vibrant pepper or research flavorful spices that can add life to meals, such as thyme, rosemary, and basil.

# 2 The Less Processed, the Better

Highly-processed snacks, desserts, and meals often include sugars and fats with absolutely no nutritional value besides calories – and often minimal taste, too! You can almost never go wrong by using fresh ingredients in your meals, from a simple vinaigrette – olive oil and balsamic vinegar – in lieu of bottled salad dressings. Or swap out afternoon snacks with tasty raw Brazil nuts and toasted almonds. Doing your loved one’s shopping primarily within the produce and butcher’s sections at the grocery store, and staying clear of anything sold in boxes, is an easy way to swap out unhealthy processed foods with vibrant, nutritious meals.

# 3 Use Olive or Avocado Oil For Healthy Butter & Margarine Alternatives

These high-heat oils make sautéing a cinch and perform far better than margarine on the stovetop at high heats, allowing you to lock in fresh flavors of fish, vegetables, and more while cooking them to perfection.

Some Of Our Favorite Recipe Ideas

This is just the tip of the iceberg for senior-friendly recipe ideas that pack a whole lot of nutrition and flavor onto one plate.

For Breakfast: Honey Oatmeal Crumble

Stir oat milk and quick oats into a sauce pan with fresh (or frozen) berries and stir until thick and oats are cooked. Add a tablespoon of honey and crumble on granola or crumbled pecans.

For Lunch: Quinoa Salad

Mix pre-cooked, chilled quinoa with freshly-diced bell peppers, onions, and fresh romaine lettuce. Toss with an Italian vinaigrette; add rice noodles on top for a little bit of crunch.

For Dinner: Baked Alaskan Salmon

Prep each salmon steak with a rub of olive oil and pepper, with just a hint of pink Himalayan salt, if desired. Place in a casserole dish ski-side down (leave the skin on, it’s a delicious source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and protein!) and add tender asparagus, also tossed in olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

As you can see, senior-friendly doesn’t have to mean bland! Your Care Professional will have many more ideas for recipes that your whole family, young and old, will want to share in as you make mealtime memories with your loved ones.