Eating Safely As You Age

As seniors age, they might not be able to do everything they used to do when they were younger. Even tasks that were once simple can become difficult. For example, seniors can struggle with eating safely. Whether it’s maintaining an appetite, eating the right foods or making sure the foods they’re eating are safe, meals can be an issue with seniors as they get older.

The two concerns when it comes to seniors and eating are nutrition and safety. They need to have a healthy diet full of nutrients and vitamins and foods that are easy to handle and eat.

“Seniors need a balanced diet so they can lead a fulfilling and happy lifestyle,” says Adrienne Burns, Dietitian at Bryn Mawr Terrace, a Continuing Care Retirement Community located in Bryn Mawr, PA. “We give our residents three nutritious and delicious meals each day, along with snacks.”

Maintaining a healthy diet helps to increase physical strength, mental alertness and energy levels, which in turn promotes a better immune system, a healthy weight and improves memory and mood. It also can reduce the risk of heart disease or having a stroke.

Nutrition

These categories break down the essentials of what seniors need in their everyday diet to lead a safe, healthy life.  

  • Fruits and Vegetables. Colorful  foods like blueberries, cherries, spinach and kale are full of nutrients.They can be eaten at any time of the year because they don’t lose nutrients when they’re frozen.
  • Protein. Seniors need to eat plenty of lean protein.  Poultry, fish and nuts are good sources of lean protein.
  • Dairy. Calcium is incredibly important for senior health and dairy contains a great amount of it. Vitamin D, also found in dairy, helps keep bones healthy. As people get older, it gets more difficult for their bodies to make Vitamin D, so incorporating plenty of dairy in one’s diet will strengthen bones.
  • Whole Grains. These foods are rich with fiber and B vitamins and boost energy.
  • Omega-3s. These are fatty acids that reduce inflammation in the body. Omega-3s are found in fish and fish oil.  

Safety

Along with nutrition, caregivers need to be aware of safer and easier foods for seniors to eat. When it comes to issues with chewing, swallowing or motor skills, there are simple changes or substitutions to solve these problems.

  • Soft foods. Instead of serving foods that are tough and take a lot of chewing effort, substitute them with softer foods. Stews, shredded or cut meats are much safer for those who have trouble with chewing.
  • Finger foods. If seniors have impaired vision or motor skills, using utensils like forks, spoons and knives can be frustrating. Choosing to eat finger foods like chicken nuggets, cut up fruits and veggies with dip, cheese sticks and finger sandwiches will make mealtimes easier and safer.  Special silverware and dishes are also available to help make eating easier and more enjoyable.
  • Smoothies. Typically a breakfast-type food, plenty of vitamins can be added to smoothies so seniors can get nutrition in a simple and delicious way.

Making Meal Times Special

When it comes to eating safely, seniors need to maintain an appetite. To encourage eating behavior in seniors, make mealtimes significant times of the day. This can be done by doing the following:  

  • Eat meals with family and friends. Being with loved ones and seeing others eat not only encourages eating, it makes the experience enjoyable.
  • Decorate the dining area. Eat meals around the same time each day and use silverware and placemats. Candles or background music can be other signs that it’s a mealtime.
  • Say a few words before the meal starts. This could be religious or just giving thanks that everyone is there together. The idea is to have an official start to the meal.
  • Get everyone involved in the meal. Include your loved one in conversation or let them help set the table or clean up after. Feeling like they are contributing to the meal is a great way to make memories and have good experiences when it comes to mealtimes.

By making sure seniors are eating food that is nutritious, safe and served in a calming and friendly environment, caregivers can be sure their loved one is enjoying meals and staying healthy.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as individuals they are, all with their own unique life story. 

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, independent living, personal care, memory care, restorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at (610) 525-8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.


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