Are you part of Club Sandwich, caught between rapidly aging parents who need caregiving while raising your own children? Then you've likely faced the problem of maintaining your parents' health while trying to keep the home fires burning.
Researchers at the Generva University Hospital in Switzerland have found one method of reducing your workload; Keep your parent's fridge properly stocked. According to a research letter in the The Lancet, elderly people with empty refrigerators often face hospital readmission, compared to patients with adequate refrigerator content. In fact, only 8 percent of study participants with full fridges went back to the hospital.
So how do you define "adequate refrigerator content?" Use the following guide to stock your parents' kitchens with easy and nutritious food items to keep them healthy for years to come.
Instead of loading up on fresh fruits, provide single-serving containers of applesauce and other fruits. Cranberry juice is a great fruit source, as well, and it has the added benefit of providing the kidneys with a boost. Make sure you buy the low-sugar version, however.
2. Protein Shakes
There's so much more than Ensure on the shelves these days. The wealth of protein shakes now available in single-serving sizes makes it easier for your parent to get the calories and nutrients necessary for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Since these items are often pricey, be sure to load up your supermarket loyalty card with grocery coupons from CouponSherpa.com to take advantage of savings.
Keep things flowing with tempting and tasty dry cereals that are easy to prepare and serve as a good source of fiber. Drugstores offer deeper discounts on brand-name cereals during sale time, so peruse their breakfast aisle when picking up meds.
4. Chicken Noodle Soup
Your mother was right; Chicken noodle soup does contain health-restoring properties, including anti-inflammatory abilities, and it's easy on the stomach while providing a tasty source of protein. Buy the microwavable, low-salt versions for simplified preparation. Alternatively, make a big batch from scratch and freeze single-serving containers for easy warm up.
5. Cottage Cheese
A great source of protein and calcium, cottage cheese is easy to serve and is a great complement to other foods. Add fresh or canned fruit for a tasty afternoon treat, or pair with cucumber and tomato slices for a savory snack loaded with nutrients.
There's always room for Jell-O, even when your stomach isn't feeling so hot. When covered in the fridge, Jell-O also has a long shelf life. Pudding and sherbet make for excellent alternatives.
Sometimes a nice slice of toast is all you need. It's easy on the stomach and simple to prepare. Cinnamon toast makes for a taste-tempting alternative, though you should always opt for whole grain over the white stuff.
8. Bottled Water
The sense of thirst is dulled by age but liquids are still vital to health. Usually, bottled water isn't the best idea, since simple tap water serves equally well. But if close-at-hand water means your parent is more likely to up their fluid intake, then by all means feel free to stock up on the bottled variety.
9. Avoid Gassy Foods
Gas-inducing foods, like beans, broccoli and cabbage, create more problems than they're worth. Skip them until the patient is up and about.
Kate Forgach is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!