How to Prepare Meals with Soft Food for Your Senior Loved One

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Seniors are sometimes placed on a soft food diet when they have difficulty chewing due to tooth loss or challenges with motor control. Fortunately, you can still make sure your aging loved one gets the nutrition he or she needs by using these ideas to create soft and delicious meals.

Select Softer Foods

Many healthy foods already come in a soft form. For instance, bananas are soft when fully ripened, and avocados (which are an excellent source of a variety of vitamins and minerals) require little preparation to make them easy to eat. As you peruse the grocery aisles, consider adding a few new foods to your loved one’s diet that naturally have the right texture. It’ll make it easier to prepare the rest of his or her meals.

Selecting softer foods ahead of time, along with making meals for your loved one in advance and storing them in the freezer or refrigerator, can be great ways to make the most efficient use of your precious caregiving time. Being a primary caregiver can often mean you’re always on the go, but it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, too. If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Des Moines, IA, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

Steam Crunchy Vegetables

Even with soft foods already stocked, you’ll still need to cook certain vegetables and fruits to round out your loved one’s meals. Although people often boil these items, you can use a basket steamer to soften vegetables such as carrots and broccoli while retaining more of the nutrients and flavor. In a pinch, you can also use a shallow dish of water to steam the vegetables in the microwave until they’re the perfect texture.

Choose Soft Cuts of Meat

Bargain cuts of meat may be easier to work into your loved one’s budget, but they may need to be minced into tiny pieces before they’re palatable, since these cuts tend to be tougher. If your loved one is a meat lover, explore other types of cuts. For instance, a filet may be softer to begin with, so you can cook it according to your loved one’s preferences. Since seniors tend to eat less than younger adults, choose a smaller cut that may make up for the price difference. Keep in mind that you aren’t limited to steak. Ground beef and turkey are other meat options that can easily be made softer. 

Choosing the healthiest options for your loved one can be confusing and frustrating, especially if he or she insists on regularly eating items such as red meat. A highly trained caregiver can suggest nutritious alternatives and help your loved one follow a healthier diet. In Des Moines, home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Add Moisture

Dry foods tend to be difficult for seniors to swallow, even when they’re in softer form. Try adding flavorful liquids to pureed or minced food. For instance, beef broth can soften cut-up steak. Alternatively, yogurt and fruit mixed together help drier foods go down easier. Adding moisture is also a great way to increase the nutritional value of each meal if your loved one frequently experiences nausea or has a poor appetite.

Use a Food Processor

Blenders and food processors can help you soften anything you can’t using the other methods. If you have a high-quality appliance, you can also set it to chop up and blend the food to your loved one’s desired consistency. For instance, he or she may prefer to have food lightly chopped so it still has some texture. Finely chopping ingredients before cooking also increases the speed with which food cooks using normal methods such as baking, so you can make a quick meal when time is short.

If your loved one has been placed on a special diet that requires soft food, following these tips may be all you need to do to make sure he or she gets proper nutrition every day. However, if your loved one’s dietary needs are more complex, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a trained professional caregiver. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior care. Des Moines families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call (515) 264-2438 today.

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