How to Cook for an Elderly Person

As people age, their tastebuds lose the ability to detect flavors in food; as a result, food starts to lose its flavor and taste bland. Salty and sweet are the first tastes to go, followed by sour and bitter. Additionally, as elderly people's immune systems weaken, they become more vulnerable to germs and bacteria found in food. If you are cooking for an elderly person, your goal is to provide healthy, nutritious meals that he or she will enjoy.


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    Talk to the senior's doctor to get the individual's recommended dietary restrictions. In general, most seniors need to follow a low-sodium, low-fat diet, but there may also be other restrictions depending on the health conditions the senior suffers from. Follow all doctor recommendations when cooking.
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    Involve the elderly person as much as possible when planning and preparing meals.
    • Ask the senior what he would like to eat when planning the week's menu.
    • Take him to the grocery store with you to do the shopping if possible.
    • Let the elderly person help prepare the meal if he is able to. If he cannot help, it is still a good idea to have him in the kitchen while you prepare the meal. The smell of the food cooking, and the experience of being around the preparation, may stimulates his appetite for the meal.
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    Prepare nostalgic meals to help the elderly stay connected to her past. Familiar meals that she ate throughout her life bring back memories of happy times. This is especially helpful if a senior is suffering from memory loss, Alzheimer's or dementia.
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    Remember that variety is the spice of life. Avoid serving the same meal too frequently, which can lead to a lack of interest in eating.
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    Add extra flavor to the food to avoid the overuse of sodium. Some seniors are quick to reach for the salt shaker because the food they are eating has no flavor to them.
    • Use low-sodium or no-salt stock or broth in place of water when preparing meals.
    • Add fresh herbs to recipes to add more flavor without increasing sodium or fat content.
    • Get creative with other ways to add flavor to foods by using onion, lemon, mustard or wine in recipes.
    • Buy higher-quality cuts of meat for more flavor and less fat.
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    Take extra care with food safety.
    • Refrigerate or freeze all perishable foods promptly. Use a thermometer to make sure that the refrigerator temperature is 40 °F (4 °C) or less, and the freezer is 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.
    • Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in the microwave. Do not thaw it at room temperature. Cook the meat immediately after it is finished thawing.
    • Cook all meats thoroughly, checking the internal temperatures with a thermometer to make sure it is done. The oven temperature should always be set to 325 degrees or higher.
    • Wash your hands well with hot soapy water before cooking and after touching raw meat.
    • Sanitize cutting boards and other surfaces that come in contact with raw meat, using 1 teaspoon of bleach in a quart of warm water.


  • Mealtime is important to many elderly people. If possible, it is better if they can eat their meals with someone else instead of alone. Conversation over the dinner table helps them to stay connected to people in their lives.
  • Routine and tradition may also be important to a senior. Be accommodating if he insists on having a tablecloth or placemat on the table, or wants to follow any other mealtime traditions.

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Categories: Grandparents | Food Preparation