Serving size. Calories. Trans fat. Understanding food nutrition labels can be challenging, and many consumers just figure why bother? But for older adults, simply ignoring nutritional information can significantly compromise their health. Instead, elders are encouraged to remember that every bite counts toward a balanced diet and adopting good nutrition often starts at the grocery store. The following can help family caregivers ensure elderly loved ones shop for nutrient-rich foods.
Understand the basics of nutrition. Talk with geriatric health professionals and visit nutrition websites about essential food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy) and healthy eating suggestions for older adults. Encourage elders to pay attention to the key components of food labels: calories, sodium, sugars and fats.
Plan first, buy second. Smart food choices involve planning which ingredients are needed for recipes and knowing their nutritional value, price and availability. Suggest the elderly make a detailed list of foods and beverages to buy for several days at a time.
Think accessibility. For getting around the grocery store smoothly, elders may want to rely on an electric shopping cart or ask an employee for assistance with getting items off shelves. If fatigue sets in while shopping, the older adults can rest on a bench within the store. Some grocery carts have built-in seats. To help eliminate impulse purchases, encourage the elderly to hold off food shopping when they are tired, hungry or feel rushed.
Consider using grocery store apps. To make food shopping easier, a number of cell phone and mobile device supermarket apps are available to create shopping lists, find bargains and scan barcodes. Several apps integrate menu planning, recipes and meal suggestions. Do a little research to make sure the app is user-friendly to match the elder’s technical proficiency.
Arrange for assistance. If food shopping with an ageing loved one is not possible, perhaps a friend, neighbor or volunteer from an elder center or place of worship can help. Certain stores offer online ordering and home delivery services. Some stores offer free delivery of groceries for elders, and others charge a nominal fee. Many older adults benefit from professional at-home elder care services like Right at Home, which can provide a helping hand with meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking — helping elders protect their health through regular, proper nutrition.
What food shopping helps do you suggest for the elderly?