The annual Thanksgiving meal together is a treasured family tradition that many look forward to each and every year. It is also an opportune time to incorporate the presence of aging seniors in your life, who value being included in family gatherings. As you plan ways to bless senior loved ones with your delicious Thanksgiving feast, Hosted at your location or brought to theirs, here are some helpful food-related considerations for seniors.
v When you plan your meal, find out if your senior family member or friend has any dietary needs, allergies, or special requests.
v Encourage seniors to start their Thanksgiving day with a nutritious breakfast, instead of skipping that important meal to “save room” for the feast ahead.
v Inquire to see if your senior loved one has any favorite recipes that can be part of the holiday meal. Or, provide them with something they can do to help contribute to the gathering, if that’s their preference. Some ideas include making a no-bake side, helping set the table, mixing or stirring food during preparations, or plating dessert.
v Include food options for them that are easy to chew and swallow. Cut the food for them as needed.
v Make sure any required medications are brought to the gathering.
v Experiment with ways to make the feast healthier for seniors (and all). Limit the salt intake, if possible.
v Help seniors watch their portions so they don’t overeat and regret it later. (Choosing a smaller plate can be helpful.)
v Try not to overindulge on desserts, and consider adding in fresh fruit as an alternative option.
v Add in some age-appropriate exercise or activity on Thanksgiving day after enjoying a bigger meal than usual.
Thanksgiving and Caring
The thoughtful options abound for welcoming seniors at Thanksgiving and caring for their health needs at meal time. Although, the most important element to integrate, as you gather with seniors and family of all ages, is making seniors feel loved and the sense of belonging. That is the true secret ingredient to a cherished holiday meal and well-spent time together.