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Old 04-08-2012, 06:30 PM   #1
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Tips on meal plan for the elderly please!

Hey there everyone, I'm new to the forum so first of all I'd just like to say hi!

Now that that is out of the way I just found out yesterday that my great-grandmother (102 years old!) has been eating frozen snicker's bars for lunch. The nutritional value of the meals in that household is just rubbish and I really want to help them out. My G-Grandma lives with her daughter and son. My Grand-Uncle is just riddled with health problems and my grandmother is basically the caretaker of everyone.

So my question is, does anyone have any tips for me? Ideally, I'd like to drive up there once a week, prepare a week's worth of meals (at the very least dinners) and put them in the freezer. I just don't know what sorts of meals freeze well and I'm not used to cooking for people with diminished taste buds.

Help!

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Old 04-08-2012, 06:44 PM   #2
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Thick soups and stews freeze well. Pancakes. More importantly perhaps you should contact an organization like meals on wheels.
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Old 04-08-2012, 06:56 PM   #3
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What are their health restrictions? Are they diabetic, have heart problems? Can they still chew and swallow without problems?

I know, anything but candy bars would be better, but you should get them the healthiest meals they can have.

I agree with soups and stews and a call to Meals on Wheels should be done.

Anything you can cook will undoubtedly be better than what they are used to.
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:15 PM   #4
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I'd have to get in touch with my Uncle for his rather lengthy medical history. I know he's had heart problems in the past and he is epileptic but beyond that I'm not sure. The three of them are all fully mobile, can chew and swallow, and none of them are diabetic.

I've just done some poking around on the Meals on Wheels site, and I'm thinking that I'd still rather just cook for them myself.
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:27 PM   #5
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Then it looks like you can cook whatever you would normally cook, unless your Uncle should be on low sodium or low fat.

I would set up individual meals for them, like TV dinners, only using homemade foods. By doubling your regular meals you would be able to set them up daily, freeze and deliver. Do they have a microwave they can heat them up in?

And don't forget desserts for them, our elders love their desserts.

And be sure to ask them what they would like to eat...
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:56 AM   #6
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I agree with PF on calling the local Meals on Wheels, they are a great organization! They offer several diet options, the food is not bad and it provides an extra set of unbiased eyes everyday to sort of do a reality check on the household.

If you are going with frozen food I like Italian dishes like lasagna or stuffed shells. Also if you are going once a week then some fresh ready made items for the first two or three days could be worked into the mix and rely on frozen items for the end of the week.

Most importantly, to me, is if Great Grandma is in good mental shape and she chooses to eat frozen Snickers bars for lunch then let her enjoy them!

Good luck!
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:46 AM   #7
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If I make it to 102, I am going to have candy for lunch every day. And maybe for breakfast and dinner, too! And ice cream, and bread, and popcorn and all those things I am avoiding now in order to have a nice long life!
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:07 AM   #8
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Welcome to DC! I have elderly parents in MN, and live 1400 miles away. I tried arranging Meals-on-Wheels--my father won't eat them. So, I go to MN about 2-3 x per year. I spend 3-4 weeks each time. I cook when I'm there. Soups--definitely--lower sodium, easy to make several varieties from homemade stock. Beef stroganoff, meatballs, chicken pot pies (can't wait to bring my pie maker bake in June and make a bunch of pot pies), small pizzas, spaghetti sauce, lasagne. Since your great-grandmother lives alone, single servings would be best. Soup is easy. Some baking powder biscuits...waffles that can be popped in the toaster, muffins. Good luck. I often go back and the food I've left in the freezer (and that my cousin has augmented in between my visits) is still in the freezer.
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:09 AM   #9
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If I make it to 102, I am going to have candy for lunch every day. And maybe for breakfast and dinner, too! And ice cream, and bread, and popcorn and all those things I am avoiding now in order to have a nice long life!
At that age, who cares! A friend's mom started smoking again at 87 (now 90). Figured that it didn't matter anymore.
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:12 AM   #10
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What I've learned to do with my parents, is put together a monthy menu that includes what they need to buy to go with the main dish, when to take it out of the freezer, and how to cook it. For the most part, they stick with the menu for the first two weeks after I leave. After that, well, it's a crap shoot. I also call my parents daily to discuss what to take out of the freezer, etc.
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:49 PM   #11
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By the time my parents need this type of help, Shrek will be there, too. I'm just going to line them up in the living room...
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Old 04-09-2012, 03:52 PM   #12
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By the time my parents need this type of help, Shrek will be there, too. I'm just going to line them up in the living room...
And spoon feed them?
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:31 PM   #13
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There are two parts of this. One is to have any of them with diminished taste (often really diminished smell) specifically screened for the array of potential causes that are not simple aging. Don't ask them about their sense of smell. Assume that it's one of the possibilities in loss of interest in food, along with depression and other causes.

All that aside, you want to:

Serve them what they are predisposed to like. In other words, ask them what they like.

Enhance flavors with spices and extra flavorings. Strongly flavored sauces, stocks, cheeses, etc. should feature prominently. Think umami, and use bottles sauces and soy sauce.

Pay attention to visual appeal. But the goal of that may not be what you think. Variety in color and texture counts, kind of the way it does with kids, rather than adults. So red Jello and bright greens go together.

There's a reason we talk about hot meals. Hot food is more appealing.

Pack in calories. Extra fats. Extra cream in coffee. Sugar in things that are already sweet. You probably won't be entirely successful in feeding quantity, so you can improve the calorie intake of what they do eat.

If sugar isn't an issue, don't entirely toss the candy bars. They can't be the whole diet, but if they like them, they're fine for desserts and snacks.

And, you know, if they happen to like HungryMan frozen dinners, and they'll eat them and enjoy them, and they keep them from wasting, why not? I think, though, that none of the lines of frozen "TV" dinners offer enough variety to hold anyone's interest for long.

And three good fresh full meals a week that they eat and enjoy and frozen meals and such the rest of the week is still a great improvement. (And probably better than most of the population does, anyway.)

I think you have to focus on principles, packing calories first, and then be very flexible and open-minded. A hot dog with a quality dog, chili, and cheese is better than a candy bar. (A hot dog AND a candy bar is probably better.)
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:35 PM   #14
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Meals that have worked for me with the elderly include baked fish (usually a mild fish such as flounder, trout fillet's, halibut, pollock, cod, etc. I generally broil the fish, with the skin side down, and season with S & P, or a little Old bay, and a squeeze of lemmon.

Fish cakes are also well received. A light sprinkling of bread crumbs over top of the fish is good too.

Velvetized chicken strips with noodles, seasoned with a bit of ginger, soy sauce, Chinese 5-spice, and granulated garlic, served over rice or soft noodles is popular.

Of course good mashed potatoes, or better yet, mashed sweet potatoes, flavored with maple, or brown sugar is great, and very nutritious.

A popular desert that I have made for elderly meals is what I call a blueberry burrito. I make crepes, and fill the center with blueberry preserves. Fold the bottom up about an inch or so. Then fold the sides over the center. Spread softened butter over the hot "burrito", and dust with powdered sugar.

Cabbage rolls are also a hit with the elderly. Just make the meat filling tender, and seasoned well.

Another dish that I have seen made, and that I know is one of my favorites is to make a roulaide from round steak, jelly-rolled around sage flavored bread stuffing. Slow roast until tender, and serve with good beef gravy made from the drippings, some tender, steamed carrots dressed with butter and honey, and something green and yummy, like steamed green beans with butter and dill.

Fruit smoothies can be a welcome, and nutritious treat that is as enjoyable as ice cream, but much healthier.

Beans are a powerhouse of nutrition. They can be made into bean soup, sweet bean pie, baked beans, refried beans, beans and rice, three bean salad, beans with ham or ham-hocks, etc. You can't go wrong with beans.

any kind of greans are both flavorful and nutritious when prepared properly.

Soups, so long as they have plenty of flavor, and lots of chunks of good things are great.

Don't forget new England Boiled Dinner.

Pasties are a great option, as are meat pies.

Hashes are a great food when made fresh and not mushy.

How many pasta dishes can you make?

I could go on. But you are limited only by what you are willing to cook, and your cooking experience.

For recipes of any of the above, just ask. I, or any number of people on this site will give ingredient lists, and cooking techniques for them.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:00 PM   #15
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Heck, she is doing pretty good if she can chew up a frozen snickers bar.. have you ever bitten into one of those? She might be burning half of the calories she is putting in trying to chew it up! All joking aside, thicker stews, beans etc would be better then thinner ones just for the ease of consuming. (unless they are drinking the soups which is another good choice.)
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparrowgrass
If I make it to 102, I am going to have candy for lunch every day. And maybe for breakfast and dinner, too! And ice cream, and bread, and popcorn and all those things I am avoiding now in order to have a nice long life!
That was MY first thought!
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:48 PM   #17
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A roast. Just season, maybe even sear it, and place in a ziplock. My mom would be VERY upset if any of us kids forgot her roast.
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:14 AM   #18
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I'm mentally gearing up for my summer trip to MN. My dad is "pre-diabetic" so I'm collecting recipes/ways to adapt what he likes to be more appropriate for his condition. With respect to roasts, what I do is serve it one night, and then divide the leftovers into smaller portions for the freezer. I wrap with clear wrap and then bag it.
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Old 06-07-2012, 07:19 AM   #19
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Think about the kinds of foods your parent/s ate as children and young adults, and maybe what they used to cook as family meals. These will likely be comfort foods that can bring back good memories.

Here's an out-of-the-box thought. Maybe your parent just misses someone to eat with. you might be able to include them in the dinner-around-the-table feel by sharing a meal with them through Skype. You prepare the same meal for yourself, and your family as you have pre-made for them. They pop it in the micro-wave and eat it at the same time you, and your family are eating the same meal. This gives them the opportunity to converse, and gets rid of some of the loneliness that comes from living alone.

Good food is always better with friends and family.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:27 AM   #20
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Think about the kinds of foods your parent/s ate as children and young adults, and maybe what they used to cook as family meals. These will likely be comfort foods that can bring back good memories.

Here's an out-of-the-box thought. Maybe your parent just misses someone to eat with. you might be able to include them in the dinner-around-the-table feel by sharing a meal with them through Skype. You prepare the same meal for yourself, and your family as you have pre-made for them. They pop it in the micro-wave and eat it at the same time you, and your family are eating the same meal. This gives them the opportunity to converse, and gets rid of some of the loneliness that comes from living alone.

Good food is always better with friends and family.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
To "wean" my parents from having me there, I call every day for the first 4-6 weeks I'm back home at the time my dad walks the dog and walk my mom through what they are having that evening (but it is my dad who has to do it because my mom has dementia, but for some reason, she still thinks she cooks--she doesn't). It helps that I have a copy of the spreadsheet re: the meal plan. This seems to help get them over the hump of having s/one there cooking for them and being back on their own again. I hadn't thought of doing the Skype thing...except my parents don't have Internet.
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