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What kinds of meals will a home carer cook?

Ensuring that an older loved one receives the proper nutrition can be a daunting task. A home carer can make sure that their nutritional needs are met through healthy and well-balanced meals adapted to their specific dietary requirements.

Eating healthy meals means that your loved one will have more energy to stay active for longer. They should feel better health-wise and be more resistant to illness. A home carer will focus on creating meals that deliver the right levels of nutrition while also being delicious to eat.

Nutrition and home care

A healthy diet depends upon eating a variety of foods to maintain a healthy weight and meet the body’s changing nutritional requirements. Diets with a high proportion of sugar and fats link to a variety of health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity. Older people enjoying care at home will have help deciphering food labelling and making healthy choices.

Following the Government’s current advice, the Eatwell Guide, those receiving elderly care should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, including fresh, frozen and tinned foods. Healthy balanced meals will also include a portion of starchy energy-giving carbohydrates, including wholegrain bread for sandwiches and brown rice or potatoes as part of a hot meal.

A portion of fruit or vegetables is roughly the amount that fits inside the palm of a hand. A diet rich in plant matter can guard against certain types of cancer and heart disease. A home carer may also provide a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice or a smoothie as one of the five a day.

It is important to keep oils and fats to a minimum. A home carer may substitute full fat with semi-skimmed milk and half fat cheese. When cooking they may cook with healthy unsaturated fats high in Omega 3, such as olive oil.

Protein, minerals and vitamins from meat, eggs poultry and plant-based sources such as lentils and tofu are the final part of the nutritional equation. Healthy meals should include lean meat and at least two portions of fish a week for optimum health and nutrition. A home carer will follow these guidelines accurately.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Poor appetite can be an issue for older people, leaving them feeling tired and low on energy. While there are health implications in being underweight or overweight, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy weight when a loved one only feels like eating a little.

Eating smaller meals with healthy snacks six times a day can be a solution. A home carer will produce smaller portions with no loss of taste or nutritional value. A bowl of Bircher muesli is quick to prepare and is ideal for breakfast, while wholewheat toast with nut butter makes a nutritious snack. Lunch could include a salmon wrap with avocado, spinach and tomatoes, while dinner could be stir fry vegetables with prawns or chicken served with rice or wholewheat spaghetti.

For older people receiving dementia care, it can be vital for a good cognitive function that they remain properly hydrated. Delicious smoothies or milkshakes can be a tasty way to hydrate while receiving important nutrition. A carer can also monitor the fluid intake of clients with heart problems or urinary incontinence so that they’re hydrated but not uncomfortable.

If your loved one is eager to lose weight, carers can provide healthy meals that promote gradual weight loss that can be easily maintained. A carer can also encourage gentle exercise and start a food diary for your loved one.

Colin and Dulcie’s story

Dulcie is 102-years-old and lives with her son Colin, his wife Mary, and her Carer Sarah. She has dementia and has had full-time live-in care for over two years.

We talk to the family about the challenges of finding the right care solution for a fiercely independent woman - and how the positive benefits of live-in care with Sarah has transformed all of their lives.

Healthy, nutritious and delicious

Loss of appetite can occur as tastebuds change. That’s why the meals prepared by a home carer must be delicious, healthy and nutritious. Carers can liaise with clients to plan menus. Menus can be made using herbs, spices and chilli to boost diminished taste buds and bring flavour and interest to mealtimes.

Eating and drinking well is an essential way to maintain an interest in proper nutrition. Clients enjoying care at home can expect to enjoy the same delicious meals they’ve always loved. Home carers can adapt old favourites if the client has problems chewing or swallowing. Carers are happy to provide meals for the freezer that can be reheated with ease. Purees and dips, and easy to eat foods such as slow-cooked stews and mashed potato can all help tempt a client to start enjoying their food again.

Support with nutrition

If a loved one is not as safe as they once were in the kitchen, then home care could be the answer. Perhaps burners are left on with no pan, or the fridge is empty or filled with rotten food. These can all be signs that an older person needs some help in the kitchen to keep themselves well-fed.

Home carers can prepare meals from scratch, or heat a ready meal and add some fresh vegetables on the side. They can cater to various dietary and nutritional requirements, whether that’s preparing three healthy meals a day or blending diabetic drinks.

When there are real concerns about a loved one’s ability to look after themselves and to eat and drink well, home care could be the solution. Whether a home carer is required to cook favourite suppers or create tempting menus, they can prepare the nutritious and healthy meals your loved one craves.

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