A young caregiver helps a senior woman with healthy meal preparation after she has been discharged from the hospital.

Balancing a healthy diet that includes a variety of nutritional foods full of flavor can be difficult for most people. As we age, preparing healthy meals while trying to balance illness or recovering from a hospital stay can prove challenging. Some seniors are unfamiliar with a healthy diet and are not always given proper instructions when they leave the hospital on what their dietary needs are going forward. It is important for in-home caregivers to plan ahead, and that’s just what Family Tree does.

One of the most important factors a caregiver takes into consideration when formulating a meal plan for a senior recovering from a hospital stay is what an individual’s health concerns are. The American diet leans heavily on sodium-rich foods, so much so that it is estimated reducing sodium consumption to recommended levels could eliminate 11 million cases of hypertension and save $10 billion to $24 billion in health care costs per year.

Some health concerns seniors may already have include:

  • High Cholesterol – Diet should be heavy in healthy fats
    • Fish
    • Nuts
    • Olives
    • Avocados
  • Diabetes
    • Avoid all alcohol
    • Foods heavy in vitamins B1, B12, C, D, folate, calcium, zinc, and magnesium
    • Lean Protein such as low-fat or nonfat dairy and skinless fish and chicken
    • Healthy carbohydrates including whole-grain bread or rice, legumes, fruits and vegetables
  • Food or Nut Allergies
  • Loss of Appetite or Malnutrition – Meals should be small and spaced throughout the day to avoid feeling overly full
    • Switch to herbs and spices for flavoring to avoid salt intake and dehydration
    • Ensure water intake is high

One of the most common problems facing seniors after discharge from a hospital is that their bodies no longer easily break down nutrients and utilize the diets they once enjoyed. As we age, our bodies change and so does our metabolism. Nutrients no longer break down and absorb as they once did. Daily medication may be interfering with the body’s chemical balance and seniors may not feel as hungry as they should or may avoid eating because of pain associated with recent surgery.

This can be frustrating for family and friends to deal with without a trained professional to lean on for advice and education. The National Institute on Aging recommends that individuals over the age of 50 who are not physically active still need 1600 calories a day for women and 2000-2200 for men. It can be difficult to reach this calorie intake, which the body will need to heal itself, without proper guidance.

Our trained, Family Tree care specialists are familiar with the USDA guidelines for your specific case. We can help arrange healthy and delicious meals that are high in healthy fruits and vegetables, grains and proteins, dairy and healthy oils while avoiding sugars and fats that slow down recovery and pack on pounds while the body isn’t as active.

Not only can a Family Tree caregiver assist in meal preparation and planning, but they can also assist with mobility and acquiring the necessary ingredients at a grocery store. Smart meal planning starts early, and they will be there for your loved ones and you every step of the way.