I went to visit my great aunt and uncle at their Seniors’ Residence as I do every week and again I was disappointed by the food that they are actually consuming. The menu appears to be decent in nutrition (definitely not great quality or freshness), however the food that the resident’s end up choosing are far from balanced. The menu for today’s lunch was as follows:
- Carrot soup
- Mandarin salad
- Devilled eggs
- Canned pears
- Ice cream
My great aunt (who is a type 1 diabetic) had the carrot soup, a ham and cheese sandwich (an alternate option), and ice cream. My great uncle had the carrot soup, pancakes with syrup and butter, canned fruit, and ice cream.
Over the past few months I have been bringing over frozen vegetables and olive oil for my great aunt to eat as a snack to try and increase her intake of greens. It’s difficult when she only has a microwave to heat items and is not able to cut up her own fruits and vegetables.
Being 80+ years old, nutrition is key to maintaining their physical and mental quality of life, yet food is also one of their main sources of pleasure. As people age their taste buds decrease in size which reduces taste sensations and create a higher affinity for sweet, fatty and salty foods. Combine this with a decrease in food quantity due to decreased energy expenditure and a reduction in saliva production and you find most elderly as malnutritioned. This malnutrition leads to further reduction in their senses, coordination and balance, and strength, which increasing their likelihood of falls, fractures, and other illnesses. My next hope is to increase their amount of fish consumption (or fish oil supplementation) and introduce veggie shakes into their meals and snacks.
Please see a related article for information on Aging Changes in the Senses.
What would you recommend? What are your experiences of the quality of foods that the elderly in your life are consuming? What are the solutions for our deteriorating elderly population?