Senior nutrition in Arkansas has been a CareLink priority for many years, especially as we serve a community significantly affected by geriatric hunger. Sadly, 18% of seniors in Arkansas are not getting the balanced diet necessary to stay healthy, independent, and functioning optimally. As older citizens shelter in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, accessing sufficient senior nutrition is even more challenging. Geriatric nutrition on a budget has never been such an important topic. To ensure the most vulnerable members of our community get the nutritional support they need, CareLink is investing more into our Meals On Wheels program to help serve the best food for seniors locally.
What Are the Nutritional Needs of Senior Citizens?
No matter how old you are, you need a balanced diet of macro- and micronutrients to survive and thrive. Healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals are all important for optimal health.
Senior citizens in particular should keep certain vitamin and mineral levels up. These vitamins can be easily accessed on a budget. For example, vitamin A (found in carrots, red peppers, and squash) helps with vision and bone health, both of which are vitally important for seniors. Vitamin C is found in most fruits and boosts immunity, an especially important function during a global pandemic. Similarly, vitamin E helps protect the lungs and fight infections. These are just a few examples of important vitamins that will keep you healthy. You can find a more comprehensive list of vitamins and their uses here.
A good diet not only keeps you fit and well but can prevent serious health conditions from occurring. Strokes, for example, can be linked with a poor diet. Heart disease is also affected by what you put into your body. Remember, geriatric nutrition on a budget does not mean unhealthy, microwavable meals. Although some frozen meals have healthy components, many have very little nutritional content and can set you up for a debilitating condition.
How to Manage Senior Nutrition on a Budget
Whether you are a senior citizen or care for a senior citizen, knowing how to budget for nutritionally-dense meals is crucial. One option is meal planning. This means preparing a week’s worth of meals in advance. Shop for the ingredients on the same day each week to avoid financial surprises.
Another idea is to buy foods you can use several times. For example, a large packet of brown rice is inexpensive and can span five to ten different meals, depending on what you cook. Lentils also last a long time and can be used in stews, soups, curries, salads, and even pasta dishes. These nonperishables are often easy to find at food pantries for seniors in Central Arkansas. Having staples in the cupboard means you only have to buy the fresh food to accompany them, reducing both spending and waste.
Freezing meals in bulk to reheat at a later date is a classic, tried-and-tested way of preserving your money. This is especially effective with stews and soups, which are some of the best foods for seniors. They can easily combine dozens of veggies with a protein source to make sure you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Another great option is to sign up for Meals on Wheels in Arkansas. This is arguably the most convenient option. Older people who struggle to go shopping or do not feel confident in the kitchen will especially benefit from a hot, nutritious meal delivered regularly.
An amazing 92% of seniors say Meals on Wheels allows them to keep living at home. Staying home has never been as important as it is in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, but a lack of social interaction can have a significant negative impact on mental health.
Meals On Wheels does more than just deliver meals. It also makes a huge difference to individuals who are self-isolating or homebound. CareLink prepares 900 meals every day and delivers them to homes in Little Rock, Maumelle, and North Little Rock. Meals are delivered hot or cold depending on your choice. We also cater to all diets and preferences.
Who Qualifies For Meals On Wheels in Arkansas?
If you are interested in accessing quality senior nutrition in Arkansas, you may qualify for Meals on Wheels. You just have to be over the age of 60 and meet one of the following criteria:
- Unable to cook or go to the grocery store alone
- A dependent of a senior aged 60 or older
The best food for seniors is delivered straight to your door, and a safety check can be carried out at the same time. This means a trained volunteer will check aspects of your home to make sure you are as safe as possible. Our volunteers can inspect appliances, ensure your lights are all working, and even test smoke alarms. Volunteers are also happy to have a chat and ensure you or the person you care for is remaining active and seeing friends. One in four seniors live alone, and one in four report chronic loneliness. Meals On Wheels deliveries can do so much more than fill up the pantry.
Geriatric Nutrition on a Budget
Meals on Wheels is not only good for senior nutrition but reduces your food bill, too. Having more available money provides a senior citizen more opportunities to socialize, have hobbies, and pay for leisurely activities instead of just the essentials. If you have questions about accessing the best food for seniors through Meals On Wheels, you can contact us online or call CareLink at (501) 372-5300.