Nutrition and Elderly Live-in Care
In this article, we take a closer look at the role nutrition plays in elderly live-in care, and how important a healthy balanced diet is, no matter your age. We will also look at particular elements of a diet that can be beneficial to the elderly.
Read more here about How to Prepare for a Live-in Carer.
Importance of nutrition in the elderly
Ageing brings with it many changes to our bodies, including changes to our nutritional needs and our diets. This is because our metabolic rate decreases and we also tend to reduce our energy expenditure by becoming more sedentary. Therefore, we tend to eat less or reduce our calorie intake as a result. This does not mean that we can neglect a healthy diet because our bodies will still need to be nourished with plenty of vitamins and minerals to maximise health.
As we age, there may be additional barriers that make us lose our appetites such as a reduction in our sense of smell and taste, dental issues, medication side effects that may cause fatigue and nausea and barriers that are more physical, such as being less able to go to the supermarket or cook healthy meals.
What is a suitable diet for the elderly?
It is necessary for an elderly person’s diet’s to be balanced and consist of carbohydrate-rich foods such as brown rice and cereals, protein-rich foods such as salmon, beans and chicken and fruits and vegetables. Additionally, intaking foods that are high in omega-3 can help reduce inflammation and slow down the progression of certain diseases. Good sources of omega-3 include fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon and sardines. If you are vegetarian, you can also find omega-3 in flaxseeds and walnuts. Aim for around two portions of omega-3 fatty acids a week.
As we age our bodies become less good at maintaining some of our vital bodily processes. One common problem in elderly people is osteoporosis or brittle bones. Calcium-rich foods can help to maintain healthy bones since if we do not intake enough calcium in our diet, then our body reabsorbs calcium from our bones. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yoghurt and cheese. You can also find cereals that have been fortified with calcium. If you struggle to absorb calcium your GP may recommend you take calcium as a supplement.
Fibre is important for our digestive systems since it helps to promote digestion. With age, our digestive system can slow down so some older people find eating foods rich in fibre helps them to maintain regular bowel movements. These foods have also shown to reduce to risk of heart disease. Some foods that are high in fibre include nuts, wholegrain cereal, brown rice, pasta and bread, as well as fruits and vegetables. Prunes are good to eat since they help to prevent constipation and they also contain potassium which helps promote healthy digestion.
On the topic of potassium, this is a very important mineral that can be found in bananas, prunes and potatoes. The right balance of potassium is important as too much can result in muscle tingling and heart palpitations, whereas too little can cause muscle weakness, cramps, nausea and can also cause depression and confusion. Being dehydrated can lead to low potassium, whereas reduction in kidney function, as a result of ageing, can lead to less excretion of potassium and therefore high potassium levels. It all sounds a bit confusing but your GP would be able to advise on any changes you need to make to your diet. Magnesium is a crucial mineral that helps with multiple physiological functions. We may become less good at absorbing magnesium as we age and if we are on certain medications. Foods such as whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables are rich in magnesium, but supplements can also be taken. Speak to your GP for recommendations of whether you need additional potassium in your diet.
Iron is essential for haemoglobin, which is a protein that carries oxygen in the blood to your body. Iron deficiency is usually known as anaemia and causes tiredness. Foods rich in iron include liver, red meat, beans and nuts.
Important vitamins to get from the diet include Vitamin B12, found in foods such as marmite, milk and meat products. Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables can help repair bones, teeth and wound healing. It is also involved in the production of collagen which gives your skin elasticity. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, and the skin generally produces it in response to sunlight exposure. Some foods that contain vitamin D include eggs and fish.
And finally, don’t forget water! It may not be food but it is essential to keep ourselves hydrated as part of a healthy diet. As we age our body may be less good at conserving water and thirst may decrease. This does not mean your body doesn’t need water. It can be helpful to drink small amounts of water throughout the day rather than a large amount in one go.
How elderly live-in care can help with dietary needs
Elderly live-in care services can help ensure that your loved one is taking in a varied and nutritious diet. Healthy eating for the elderly is something a live-in carer will be experienced with and they will be able to work with your loved one to optimise a diet plan that is palatable and incorporates the different vitamins and minerals needed for your loved one. Dietary needs for the elderly are important to consider when receiving care in the home as this can help to bring your loved one’s energy levels up, it can help with sleep, physical health and mental health and provide a simple solution to an overall healthier lifestyle. By having a live-in carer, they can help keep enjoyable foods regular but also offer variability between meal choices.
Easy food ideas for the elderly
There are plenty of fun food ideas for the elderly – no matter what your loved one’s preferences, you can find ideal recipes that not only have great flavour but contain those all-important nutrients and vitamins. Nowadays, there are such a great variety of recipes, and no matter specific dietary requirements, such as diabetes, trouble chewing, or even simply being vegetarian – you can find something!
We’ve listed a few ideas to get you started.
Breakfast ideas for the elderly
Power-packed fruit smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to start the day. They aren’t too heavy but can contain all the right foods to get you started for the day. Bananas are great for energy, whereas berries can be a sweet addition in small doses. The best thing about smoothies is that the flavour combinations are endless.
You can make pancakes far healthier than a traditional pancake recipe, and with vegan, gluten-free options around nowadays, if you’re looking to cut out certain ingredients, you can! Bananas are a much-loved staple; full of potassium iron, they release energy slowly, making them the perfect accompaniment for any breakfast.
Fruit and yoghurt
Fresh and filling, mixed fruit and yoghurt is a great healthy breakfast, with the combinations only as limited as your imagination! If you don’t feel this is enough, then you can always add porridge oats for a little extra goodness.
Poached egg on toast
Poaching an egg is probably one of the healthiest ways to prepare it, and it tastes delicious! Eggs are a great source of protein and omega 3, and paired with some wholemeal toast, it makes the perfect breakfast.
Boiled eggs and soldiers
Another way to enjoy eggs! Boiled eggs are another great idea for breakfast, as they don’t take long, are very filling, and can be enjoyed with some wholemeal pieces of toast sliced into soldiers for an extra helping of nostalgia.
Lunchtime ideas for the elderly
Easy stir fry
Stir frys are a great way to get your daily intake of vegetables in, and you can mix it up with flavours and meat combos to get your taste buds tingling! From punchy prawn stir frys to sizzling chicken combos, you can add a bit of spice to your day. If you’re looking to build up your veg intake, then you can opt for a vegetable stir fry. Stir frys cut out any processed foods and can be made with pure veg.
The much-loved quiche is certainly an underrated lunch idea. Quiche’s by their very nature keep ingredients healthy, and an easy quiche recipe is a great way to get your leafy greens in. They’re rich in magnesium, iron, and vitamins C, A and K. Easy, versatile, and packed with protein, With an egg-based filling and a thin tasty pastry, what’s not to love?
An easy and healthy idea for lunch is to oven cook some chicken fillets, to add to a wrap. The fillings are up to you! Lettuce, onion, tomatoes, sweetcorn – the world’s your oyster! Oven-baked or grilled chicken means you avoid cooking it in oil. Chicken is rich in protein and B12, which is great for energy and keeping blood cells healthy respectively.
Omelette is another great way to get eggs into your diet in an interesting way. You can make an omelette out of anything you fancy – ham, onion, mushroom, a sprinkling of cheese, peppers – you can get your greens in while also getting that all-important protein and Omega 3 in!
Salmon and salad
Salmon is a versatile fish, and when oven-baked, can be flaky and delicious, especially on top of a salad. Mix with salad leaves, red onion, spring onion, tomatoes, avocado and dressing for a lighter mid-week meal that keeps things interesting while getting those all-important nutrients into your diet.
Dinner Ideas for the elderly
Tuna is a fantastic fish – it’s relatively cheap, tasty and versatile, and is packed with essential nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin D. Create a hearty dish with either vegetables and potato for a tuna casserole or go for the classic tuna pasta bake. Pasta is a softer food if your loved one has trouble chewing, but packs a punch of flavour.
50g plain flour
250g strong cheddar, grated
2 x 160g cans tuna steak in spring water
330g can sweetcorn, drained
large handful chopped parsley
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
Boil 600g rigatoni for 2 mins less time than stated on the pack.
To make the sauce, melt 50g butter in a saucepan and stir in 50g plain flour. Cook for 1 min, before stirring in 600ml milk to make a thick white sauce. Add almost all the cheese
Drain the pasta, mix with the white sauce, add the tuna, and sweetcorn and pasta.
Transfer to a baking dish and top with the rest of the grated cheddar. Bake for 15-20 mins until the cheese on top is golden and starting to brown.
Roasted root veg
This is more of a side dish, but roasted root vegetables are perfect for anybody looking to add that all-important extra veg to their evening meal. It’s a great way to get rid of any excess vegetables in the cupboard, too. Simply prep the vegetables in a roasting tin, season well and cook for around 40 minutes at 180 degrees celsius. Lovely!
Salmon based meal
Salmon is another great recipe ideas – it is very easy to prepare, and is rich in fatty acids, good fats, and high-quality proteins. Salmon can be used as a base for most meals and can be paired with a light salad in the summer, or for a more wholesome, hearty dish, opt for buttery potatoes and lots of green vegs. Easy to prepare and full of taste, it’s an ideal meal for any food plan. Why not mix it up and have salmon fishcakes – another delicious and healthy meal!
450g floury potatoes, cut into chunks
350g salmon (about 3 fillets)
2 tsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp English mustard
zest ½ lemon, plus wedges to serve
1 heaped tbsp chopped parsley
1 heaped tbsp chopped dill
3 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, beaten
100g dried breadcrumb
4 tbsp sunflower oil
salad, to serve
Place 450g floury potatoes, cut into chunks, in a pan of water, bring to the boil, cover and cook for 12-15 mins until tender. Drain and leave to steam-dry, then mash.
Grill the salmon fillets until just cooked, and break into large flakes after it has cooled.
Mix the potato, tomato ketchup, English mustard, the zest of ½ lemon. Add parsley and dill before mixing in the salmon lightly. Shape into 4 large fish cakes.
Put the plain flour, 1 beaten egg and 100g dried breadcrumbs in 3 dishes. Dip the cakes into the flour, dust off any excess, then dip in the egg, and finally coat in breadcrumbs.
Fry the cakes over medium-low heat with oil for 3-4 mins on each side, until they’re cooked through.
Lamb and potatoes
Great as a mid-week hearty dinner, a lamb dinner mixes things up mid-week! Either prepare lamb chops with boiled potatoes or opt for lamb meatballs with dauphinoise potatoes, perhaps! Lamb is a great source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Adding a lamb-based meal to your week can help promote muscle growth, and with a little rosemary seasoning will taste glorious!
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
4 trimmed lamb rumps, about 200g each
2 banana shallots , halved lengthways
450g new potatoes
2 spring onions , chopped
1 lemon , zested and juiced
1 tbsp capers
small handful mint leaves , chopped
splash of olive oil (optional)
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the spices with a generous pinch of salt, then coat the lamb in the mix. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan. Sizzle the lamb, fat-side down, for 5 mins. Flip the lamb, then put the shallots, cut-side down, in the pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 10 mins for pink lamb, or 15 mins for medium. Remove the pan from the oven, then leave to stand for 5 mins.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes on to boil and simmer until just cooked. Drain, then gently crush with a potato masher. Add the spring onions and lemon zest, season, then keep warm until ready to serve.
Remove the lamb and shallots from the pan. Stir the capers, mint, lemon juice and a splash of olive oil (if needed) into the lamb juices to make a dressing. Slice the lamb and separate the shallots into layers. Spoon the potatoes onto warm plates, add slices of lamb and some shallots, then spoon over the dressing.
Healthy fish and chips
You don’t have to go without this Friday treat even when eating healthily! By preparing the elements at home rather than heading to the fish and chip shop, you can avoid all the unhealthy saturated fats and excess salt. Simply oven cook either a lightly dusted cod fillet, or even opt for a skinless fillet. For the potatoes, par-boil wedges of Maris pipers, before oven cooking for 30 – 40 minutes with a little seasoning and olive oil. With a great helping of peas for those all-important nutrients.
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into thin wedges
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
4 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
2 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
3 cornichons , finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp of the brine
1 shallot , finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped dill , plus extra to serve
300g frozen peas
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
4 cod or pollock loin fillets
1 lemon , cut into wedges, to serve
Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8. Toss the sweet potatoes with the oil and some seasoning on a baking tray. Roast for 20 mins.
Combine the yoghurt, mayonnaise, cornichons and reserved brine, the shallot and dill with 1 tbsp cold water in a small bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, put the peas in a pan with the milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 mins. Blitz the mixture using a hand blender until roughly puréed. Stir in the mint and season to taste. Set aside.
Add the cod or pollock to the baking tray with the sweet potatoes, season and cook for 10-15 mins more, or until cooked through. Warm through the pea mixture. Scatter over some dill and serve the traybake with the yoghurt tartare and the mushy peas.
How can we help
At The Live in Care Company, we pride ourselves on helping you make arrangements for a live-in carer for the elderly via a hassle-free and straightforward process. Our helpful team can support you with getting the appropriate care for an elderly relative and we can discuss all of the care options available for you.
Our team will help you understand your options fully before matching you with a well-suited live-in carer.
Speak to one of our experts
Our friendly experts are here to help from 9am to 7pm, 7 days a week.
One important element to elderly live-in care is how this will impact a person’s diet and meal planning. Usually, if a person requires live-in care, this will mean that they may need assistance with everyday tasks, including cooking.