Food plays a major role in providing vital nutrition for optimum health and wellbeing of elderly aged care residents. Older people need extra nutrients and protein in their daily diet to combat weight loss and preventable cognitive decline.
Every meal needs to be enjoyable and full of flavour to promote eating while at the same time being a rich source of nutrition to keep bodies and brains healthy.
Today, there are an increasing number of residents needing modified or restricted-food diets including meat-free, dairy-free or gluten-free choices. CSIRO Healthy Diet Score 2016 report found as many as one in four (25%) Australian adults aged over 70 years avoid certain foods. This means more residents than ever before will request vegetarian, dairy-free or gluten free diets to manage an intolerance, or will have allergies to common foods such as seafood, nuts and egg.
With such a high rate of special dietary requirements, whether it’s due to allergies, intolerance, physical limitations (such as difficulty swallowing) or simply a personal choice, it can be challenging for find delicious and nutritious alternatives that residents will still find enjoyable and satisfying. It requires careful planning of meals, sourcing appropriate ingredients to ensure residents still get all the nutrients, fibre and protein needed, as part of a person-centred approach.
Most common diets in Aged Care
Texture-modified meals for residents with Dysphagia
The Royal Australian College of GP’s estimates dysphagia affects up to 50% of elderly people in aged care facilities as it is a common effect of stroke, Parkinson disease and dementia. To help people with swallowing difficulties continue to eat well and enjoy a balanced diet, food must be soft-textured or even minced or pureed, depending on the severity of the condition, so it can be easily chewed and swallowed. Soft-prepared food can be enhanced by various sauces for added flavour and moisture.
Nil by Mouth
For a small number of residents, oral diets are not possible. In such cases, tube-feeding is an appropriate way for a resident to continue to receive adequate nutrients and fluids. The smell of food can be enough to give a person the sensation of eating a delicious meal and enhance the mealtime experience enormously. In some cases, foam food can be used so people can still experience taste without having to swallow.
Watch Vitish Guddoy, Hospitality Services Manager from Barossa Village in South Australia, talk about how molecular gastronomy is making a difference in Aged Care.
For residents with Coeliac disease, a strict Gluten-free diet must be followed to significantly improve all aspects of their health and wellbeing by reducing the debilitating symptoms. There is a range of Gluten-free alternative ingredients that can create delicious, Gluten-free choices for residents with intolerances.
Click here to order your free sample of our newly launched KNORR Gluten Free Rich Brown Gravy that all your residents, not just gluten-free ones, will love.
Meat-free Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
More and more people are opting to eliminate some or all kinds of meat and fish from their diets, either for cultural, religious or personal ethical reasons. Using a variety of vegetables and pulses provides a hearty meat-substitute, especially in stir-fries, pastry and pasta dishes. Soups and casseroles made with legumes, pearl barley or noodles can be satisfying and deliciously healthy too. Eggs and other dairy foods like cottage cheese are high in protein to provide energy and support muscle function in vegetarians.
Click here for some meat-free meal inspirations for your residents.
Lactose-Free (non-Dairy) Diets
Lactose intolerance is the reduced ability to digest milk sugars (known as lactose), due to insufficient amounts of the gut enzyme called lactase. Finding dairy-free options can be a challenge, however many plant-based ingredients or specialty dairy-free products provide excellent substitutes.