Most people take the daily actions of chewing and swallowing for granted, but there are many seniors that experience a lot of problems with these two simple movements. Chewing breaks down the food into smaller particles so it can be easier to digest. In seniors, chewing problems can stem from poorly fitting dentures, tooth or gum decay, soreness in tongue or lips, mouth infections, chronic diseases, muscle loss from strokes and more. Elder care requires tailoring to each senior’s needs, so menu modifications can make a real difference in how seniors get their meals.
There are few solid foods that can be eaten without even a little chewing. When the elderly experience chewing problems, they are at risk for lower intake of nutrients and calories. Family caregivers and home care aides following an elder care program that are aware of chewing and swallowing issues in seniors can make a number of menu modifications so that the meals remain nutritious and delicious yet easy for seniors to consume.
Here is a list of menu modifications that will still provide seniors with lots of flavor and nutrients yet are ideal for anyone with chewing issues.
- Soups and stews are ideal for seniors with chewing issues because the small pieces and long cooking time makes everything tender and soft. Homemade varieties are also very nutritious and can be packed with lots of vegetables and meat, while canned soups are fine for convenience.
- Casseroles of assorted ingredients make ideal meals for seniors. With rice or pasta bases and lots of savory sauces, casseroles can satisfy every appetite. Chopped vegetables, meat and soft cheese can entice seniors back for seconds.
- Scrambled eggs, omelets and frittatas pack in the flavor without straining teeth and jaw muscles. Add spinach, mushrooms, chopped ham and cheese for a meal packed with vitamins and minerals.
- Smoothies can help even the most reluctant seniors get the calories and nutrients they need for a meal. Homemade smoothies can include whole milk, yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, protein powder, berries and more. Even though they are drinkable, they bring enough nutrition to count for a light meal or healthy snack.
- Dairy snacks are healthy, cool and desirable any time of year so seniors are more likely to enjoy them alone or as part of a meal. Think about flavored yogurt, cottage cheese, soft cheese cubes, frozen novelties like ice cream bars and more.
- Soft ground beef dishes can satisfy the taste for meat without the challenge of chewing it. Meals with meat loaf, meatballs and ground beef-based casseroles like shepherd’s pie can be easy on the mouth while filling up the stomach.
- Puddings should definitely be on the menu for seniors with chewing challenges, but not just the chocolate dessert kind. Rice pudding, bread pudding, tapioca, baked custard, fruit cobblers and more are all excellent dishes to enjoy at every age.
- Breads are often overlooked as meals, but the soft centers surrounded by crusty goodness are hard to ignore. Muffins, pancakes, waffles, French toast, sandwiches with cold cuts and plain old bread with butter taste just great and are easy for seniors to bite.
Of course, home care aides and family caregivers should work with doctors, nutritionists and even dentists on an overall elder care plan to provide the best types of meals for seniors with chewing and swallowing challenges. By applying some creativity and determination, caregivers for elderly people that experience problems with eating won’t be deterred from proper nutrition and enjoying their various meals.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Novato, CA, call At Your Service Home Care. Call today! Sonoma County: (707) 238-5700 or Marin County: (415) 942-8955
She became a discharge planner and immediately fell in love with the concept of home care and the autonomous clinical practice it affords nurses. Dr. Lucy was hooked and has been a strong supporter of home care ever since.Believing people need advocates in healthcare systems, she has championed that cause across the acute care and post-acute care setting.
Dr. Lucy has worked in every aspect of home care from Medicare Certified, DME, Infusion, Hospice and finally Private Duty/Private Pay services. She also works as a home care consultant across the country and as a legal nurse consultant for the home care industry.
Having worked in all areas of home care, Dr. Lucy has a well-rounded perspective of the challenges facing patients, families and the home care industry, and as a provider she advocates for patients through the maze of health care services. Dr. Lucy celebrated over 37 years as a nurse and patient advocate.
Dr. Lucy has a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing from Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois.In 1994, she received her Masters of Science in Health Service Administration from St. Mary's University, Moraga, California. Dr. Lucy received her Doctor of Nursing Practice awarded in 2016, graduating with Distinction and a 4.0 GPA.
She did her doctoral work on the global dementia crisis, aging and prevention strategies for healthy living. Developed dementia and Alzheimer's disease plans for aging patients leaving the hospital setting or entering long-term care or home health and hospice environments. She also developed a specialized program for those at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In 1992, Dr. Lucy was designated CAHSAH Certified Home Care Administrator in the inaugural offering of this designation through the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH).
She is the founder and CEO of Creative Solutions Home Care Consulting Services and At Your Service Nursing & Home Care, a concierge nursing & home care agency that provides the services she believes are essential for seniors to age in place.She offers a higher level of care allowing people to be in their own homes with an emphasis on independence, safety, and quality of life.
Dr. Lucy is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and sits on the Board of Directors for California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH).
She has served on the boards for both state and national board associations, and is currently on the following boards and committees: Board of Directors, California State Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH), 2002-present, National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC's) Private Duty Home Care Association Director, and multiple state and national home care committees.
Dr. Lucy goes to Washington, DC, several times a year to advocate for senior services and home care issues. She was past Commissioner for the Sonoma Commission on Human Rights.She is past chair of the local Senior Advocacy Services.