Malnutrition is a risk that some elderly adults face. A tight budget during retirement can make fresh produce hard to afford. Seafood and leaner protein sources may be more expensive than a fatty pork roast. What are the cornerstones of a proper elderly diet? How can you make sure your parents can afford the foods that are better for them?
Foods Your Parents Need
The cornerstones of an older adult’s diet are lean proteins, whole grains, fresh produce, and dairy. Proteins help with muscle, but some also add the omega fatty acids and calcium your parents’ need. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which eases the risk of constipation and certain cancers.
Fresh produce is essential as fruits and vegetables are a good source of the antioxidants your parents need for cell health. Dairy products are one of the best ways to get vitamin D and calcium your parents need to have stronger bones.
How much should your parents be eating? It comes down to your caloric requirements, but older adults should be aiming for:
- Dairy – 3 cups
- Fruits – 1 ½ to 2 cups
- Grains – ¾ to 1 cup
- Protein – ½ to ¾ cup
- Vegetables – 2 to 3 cups
Oils should be sparing at no more than 7 teaspoons. You want healthier oils like avocado, olive, or walnut. Sodium and sugar intake needs to be kept to a minimum.
Plate Portioning Helps Achieve Dietary Goals
These foods should be offered throughout the day. Proper plating is also important. A good idea is to divide a plate into quarters. Half of the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. A quarter of the plate has a portion of lean protein. The remaining quarter is for the whole grain.
If your parents don’t like to eat a full meal, break it up over smaller plates. You could do one small plate that’s half grains and have fresh vegetables. A couple of hours later, do a portion of low-fat cottage cheese topped with fresh fruit. Continue that pattern to meet all dietary needs over the day.
If your parents struggle with budgeting when grocery shopping, it’s a good time to talk about elderly care providers. They can have a caregiver help them plan a weekly menu and shop for items they don’t have in their kitchen. Elderly care aides can also carry in groceries and cook meals for them. Call our elderly care agency to learn more about caregivers, pricing, and schedules.