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HEALTH AND FITNESS

Healthy snacks for elderly people

As we age, our taste and smell can change, making it difficult to consume all necessary nutrients.

January 29, 2024

Elderly couple having healthy snacks

Older adults often find that their sense of taste and smell changes with age. It’s also common for seniors to lose their appetite somewhat, and they might no longer want to eat some of the same foods they used to enjoy, or even eat full meals at all. This means that it can become more challenging for the elderly to take in all of the essential nutrients needed to stay as healthy as possible.

In this article, we look at some healthy snack options that are ideally suited to older adults and can help ensure that they get the balanced nutrition they need to support their overall health and wellbeing.

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Why appetite may change with age

There are many reasons why someone’s appetite can change in later life. These include:

  • A side effect of a certain medication they are taking
  • Changes to the sense of taste and/or smell, which can make food seem less palatable
  • Changes in health or progression of already-diagnosed health conditions
  • Dental or mouth issues, which can make it painful to eat or swallow some foods
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, which can result in habit changes or forgetting to eat
  • Depression or anxiety, which can sometimes cause loss of appetite.

Find out more about the causes of appetite changes in older adults and take a look at our tips for helping with elderly loss of appetite.


Why good nutrition is especially important for the elderly

A healthy and balanced diet in later life can help support the body and can sometimes even help prevent some health conditions from worsening or developing in the first place. The nutritional needs of some older adults can change over time, and maintaining healthy eating and an active lifestyle can make all the difference to someone’s wellbeing, and their ability to live an independent life for as long as possible. Creating a meal plan and preparing meals in advance can help ensure a balanced and nutritious diet.

Find out more about healthy eating for elderly people.


Why snacking can be ideal for older adults

As previously mentioned, many older people find that their appetite takes a hit as they age, which can mean that getting the right level of nutrients every day isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. By eating (or snacking on) smaller amounts more frequently, it can make it easier to get a good balance of food groups, without spending lots of time preparing and cooking complicated larger meals that might sometimes go to waste.

If the older person isn’t used to snacking, rather than having a conventional three-set meals a day, it can take a bit of getting used to, changing their eating habits to meet their body’s changing needs. However, healthy snacks can be a great alternative for those with reduced appetite, underweight older adults or those who might find making and eating large meals more difficult than they used to.


Healthy snack ideas for the elderly

Some quick, affordable and easy-to-make snacks that provide essential nutrients for seniors and are heart healthy foods include:


Sardines on toast

Packed with vitamins and minerals, sardines are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are great for older adults. Using tinned sardines, which are already cooked and ready to eat, all that’s needed is to drain the tin, toast and butter some bread, then spread the sardines on top and season to taste.


Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds

High in protein, fats, minerals and vitamins, nuts and seeds can be a great snack for older adults and require no preparation in most cases, as pre-made mixes of nuts and seeds are widely available. A handful of nuts and seeds once or twice a day can be a nutritious snack for seniors.


Hard-boiled eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein and omega-3, along with other vitamins and minerals, and they can be used in a number of different ways to make a tasty and healthy snack for older people. From adding sliced boiled egg to a salad, topping toast or crispbreads with boiled egg, or simply eating the egg on its own, this can be a great option for older adults with smaller appetites.

Hard-boiled eggs can be kept in the fridge for several days after cooking, so batch-cooking several eggs once or twice a week can be a good way to make sure it’s a snack that’s always ready and waiting to go.


Hummus with vegetable batons

Carrots, sweet peppers and cucumber are three of the most popular vegetables to quickly and easily chop into batons, which can then be eaten with hummus. The chickpeas in the hummus are a good source of protein and the vegetables add flavour as well as lots of vitamins.

If hummus isn’t a favourite, you can swap this with natural nut butter instead, to enjoy a healthy and flavourful snack. Peanut butter is a popular choice for this.


Soft snacks for elderly people

For those older adults who find eating harder foods more difficult than they used to, there are plenty of softer alternatives when it comes to healthy snacks.


Yoghurt with berries

Yoghurt for healthy snacking

Full-fat Greek yoghurt is a good option for a snack aimed at older adults. The yoghurt varieties with reduced fat often contain more sugar and salt to compensate, so the full-fat versions usually contain higher protein and lower levels of sugar. Adding some fresh (or frozen and defrosted) berries is a great way to add some flavour and interest to yoghurt. A drizzle of honey is also a good way to add some sweetness in a healthier way than using sprinkled sugar.


Rice pudding

A great source of fibre, calcium and protein, a small portion of rice pudding can make a great snack for older adults. It takes a while to cook a batch of rice pudding up from scratch, but it keeps in the fridge for 3-5 days or can be frozen in bags of individual portions to make it last longer. Traditionally, rice pudding recipes often use full-fat milk, sugar and cream, but a healthier option that still tastes creamy and satisfying is to use semi-skimmed milk and Greek yoghurt instead of cream, with honey to add sweetness rather than sugar. This could be a good rice pudding recipe to try.


Porridge

It’s a classic breakfast, but porridge has come a long way over recent years and it’s a healthy and fibre-packed snack that can be eaten at any time of day. Everyone has their own preferred way to make porridge, but a quick and easy option is to use pre-portioned oats and flavours in a packet, that can be made with milk in the microwave in just a couple of minutes.

Adding your own choice of fruit (banana is a great soft addition to porridge) and a drizzle of honey for sweetness can make this a filling and nutritious snack for older adults.


Soup

Soup for the elderly

Great for colder days, soup is a good light meal or snack that many elderly people enjoy. Making it from scratch means that you know exactly what is going into your batch of homemade soup, and you can blend it to your preferred consistency, but tinned soup can be a good alternative to minimise prep-time. There are so many different flavours and varieties of soup, so what might not sound an exciting option doesn’t need to be dull. It can also be a good way to use up leftover meat or vegetables, and the soup can be frozen in portions so that there is a stock of easy snacks ready in the freezer whenever needed in the future.

Along with ensuring that an older loved one in your life is getting the nutrition they need from their snacks and meals, it’s also essential to consider the importance of hydration in elderly people, and make sure that they are taking in enough liquid to help support their health and wellbeing.


Peace of mind for loved ones

If your older loved one is experiencing a reduced appetite or is finding getting the right nutrition a bit of a challenge, it is very common for family and friends to be concerned about their health and wellbeing. If the older person lives independently or alone, it can be especially worrying for loved ones.

Along with the helpful resources and advice that we offer, a personal alarm system from TakingCare can offer peace of mind that an elderly person in your life will be able to reach assistance if they need it. We also offer non-intrusive care monitoring systems that can raise an alert if your loved one suddenly changes their habits or routine at home.

Taking Care Sense home monitor

Taking Care Sense is a proactive home monitoring system that alerts the resolution team if there’s a change in daily living activities that could indicate a problem.

Home monitoring

To find the right system for your loved one’s circumstances and lifestyle, call our team on 0800 085 7371 to talk through the options and you can also view our full range of alarms here.

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure


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