Fuelling the body and mind: the nutritional needs of seniors

In Australia, we often underestimate just how powerful food is for overall health. Research shows that we’re more quick to reach for a prescription before we rethink what’s going on in the kitchen. At Archbold House, we understand just how important nutrition is, carefully planning all meals to maximise residents’ wellbeing. We also understand how important taste is: nothing is more fulfilling than a delicious meal, surrounded by good conversation, laughter and friends. Archbold House’s head chef, Chris Girardin, blends his gourmet French culinary background with specialist nutritional knowledge, creating tasty flavours from healthy ingredients.  He has developed his meal planning to include even more variation, like more vegetarian options. Here are some of the core decisions that go into our menu planning every day:

Nutritious ingredients for senior bodies

As our bodies age, so do our nutritional requirements. Catering to these requirements helps people stay fit, vital and energised so they can make the most of their older years. Elderly people should eat plenty of colourful fruits and veggies. These are not only visually appealing, but contain important antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage – a problem aging people are particularly susceptible to. Older bodies also need more protein, which is crucial to the body’s repair system: keeping the skin, muscles, gut and blood healthy. Eating foods that are rich in protein not only keeps the body healthy, but also protects brain cells from damage, reducing cognitive decline caused by age.  

Understanding the senior palette

As we age, many of us lose our taste buds and sense of smell. We produce less saliva, which has an important role in taste and swallowing. The signalling system between our stomach and brain also deteriorates, causing appetite changes. This combined with certain medications makes some people feel extra hungry and some feel extra full. It’s important for seniors to maintain regular eating patterns so they’re reminded not to eat too much or too little. One core way to do this is by creating joy around mealtimes – ensuring food is not just fuel, but a meaningful part of the day that people love and look forward to.

Taste, variety and personal preference

While most people love to eat, we don’t all love the same foods. Our food preferences depend on our upbringing, culture and life experience. We spend our lives celebrating the most important moments in our lives with food, and never forget the foods of our childhood, which is why eating brings back such powerful memories. As our taste buds age, we tend to taste more with our eyes, our memories and through textures. This is why we provide a mix of hearty meals reminiscent of the old days, as well as other dishes that tantalise taste buds in new ways. Ensuring residents have choice when it comes to food is at the heart of our food philosophy – there’s always a range of meat and vegetarian options that cater to a range of preferences, so nobody is ever bored.

Catering to special needs

The physiological changes seniors experience as they age, like deteriorating senses, teeth, gums and saliva can cause conditions like Dysphagia – problems chewing and swallowing. This can be very painful and frustrating, often leaving people unable to eat or to enjoy meals. At Archbold House, we ensure people with these needs have access to wholesome and tasty soft foods, so nobody misses out on the chance to enjoy mealtimes – which we all know are some of the happiest and most enriching parts of the day.

Catering for the senior palette is a balancing act: combining wholesome foods that fuel the body with tasty flavours that feed the soul. For more information about our menu, kitchen or food philosophies, contact us today.