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Common Barriers to a Healthy Diet for Seniors and How to Overcome Them

Caregiver Delivering Groceries to Senior Woman

Learn tips to overcome these typical obstacles to a healthy diet for seniors.

Is there anything better than sitting down to enjoy your favorite meal, prepared just the way you like it? Unfortunately though, for many older adults, this simple pleasure becomes a challenge. Health conditions, medication side effects, even an inability to get out to pick up groceries can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet for seniors. At Home Matters Caregiving, we’re familiar with these concerns and have some tips that can help.

What Are the Most Common Nutrition Problems for Seniors?

Digestion problems: Acid reflux, excess gas, and other stomach problems can lead to the avoidance of certain types of foods, which could lead to a deficiency in vital nutrients, like protein, calcium, fiber, and more. FDA recommendations include:

  • Foregoing milk and substituting less irritating dairy products, like cream soups, cheese, yogurt, or pudding.
  • Replace high-fiber veggies like broccoli and cabbage with carrots, potatoes, and vegetable juices, which are easier to digest.
  • Try canned fruits or fruit juice in place of fresh fruit.

Chewing problems: Fresh vegetables, meats, and fruits aren’t easy to consume for those with problems chewing. Try these replacements instead:

  • Canned pears and peaches, applesauce, and fruit juice.
  • Cooked or mashed vegetables and vegetable juices.
  • Eggs, cheese, yogurt, and ground meat.
  • Rice, cooked cereals, bread pudding, and soft cookies.

Cooking/shopping problems: Difficulty with cooking can occur for several reasons: cognitive changes, problems with standing for long periods of time, or even trouble handling cooking utensils. Additionally, mobility issues make it hard for many older adults to get out to the store to pick up groceries. Try these ideas:

  • Use the microwave to heat prepackaged meals and frozen foods.
  • Explore meal programs for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels.
  • Look into home delivery options from the local grocery store.
  • Partner with a professional caregiver from Home Matters Caregiving to shop for groceries and prepare nutritious meals.

Appetite changes: Seniors who live alone may simply not feel like cooking for one and may feel lonely at mealtimes, which can lead to a reduced appetite. Medications can also affect the way food tastes. Try:

  • Sharing meals with a lonely senior loved one as often as possible.
  • Look into congregate meals provided at local senior centers.
  • Talk to the doctor about potential medication side effects that may be affecting appetite.

Home Matters Caregiving is here to help someone you love overcome any barriers in order to maintain a healthy diet for seniors. Contact us at 800-298-5140 to learn more about our companion and caregiving services and to find out if our services are available in your area.

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