Seniors Can Have Their Steak and Eat It, TOO!

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How to keep seniors eating the food they enjoy even if they have eating, swallowing, chewing or strength issues with recipes for shut-ins.  by francy Dickinson

My Georgie at the Cafe

My Georgie at the Cafe

Dear Francy; My George had cabin fever and kept asking to go out with me. That is not possible when I am running around…so I planned a simple meal at a local cafe for Sunday Brunch. It takes 2 hrs. to prepare George for leaving the house. Then the wheelchair, car, drive and unload the wheelchair and get him safely inside to a table. Then he often does not know how to make a choice with a multi-dish menu. So, I suggested the PrimeRib and did not even give him the menu. He agreed. When it arrived…he began to dig in…and I was shocked to see he was unable to cut his meat. Wow, his abilites with the combo of Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s are really going away. I cut his meat…and then he was happy and made his way through the meal with horseradish, au jus and stuffed baked potato…YUMM. But a little bit of me was sad that he had made such a big change in his eating abilities.  

HOW TO KEEP OUR SENIORS EATING WELL…
WHEN THEY HAVE TEETH, SWALLOWING OR STRENGTH ISSUES

When mother was living with us (from 95 yrs -100 yrs old) she came with really bad teeth. I don’t know why she had let her teeth go so badly. But they were just a mess…so we had them pulled and got her dentures. During the process of healing and before the dentures…she would tell me how she was so looking forward to having a “real steak or pork chops”. I understood…she was raised and then later cooked through the meat and potato time of home cooking…so she longed for her old flavors. The day that she got her dentures…I had a pork chop with Rice a Roni and asparagus for her dinner and she was a very happy camper. Life changes are hard for all of us…going up a size in your clothes or going down in your abilities to eat food you have always enjoyed.

I understand that many folks are eating more chicken, turkey and fish along with a vegetarian diet…but most seniors still enjoy their beef. So here are a few tips to help you through the process of feeding your senior beef. Even if you are not eating it along with them…make sure that they get a good beef dinner every other week. That will keep them happy and give them the protein they need.

If you are lucky and can afford fancy cuts of meat…I bless you. I am not. I have to shop for beef and find it within my budget. I do have a couple of tips. One is to buy lesser cuts and then prepare them so they have tenderness and flavor. I also look for un-advertised “manager or in-store” specials. Those specials will have a sign on them for a fast sell..the meat is getting to the end of it’s “sell by” date and so even good cuts can be cut in price. Sometimes it will be less then half the original price. I find these cuts usually are on the shelf in the morning hours before noon…and so I try to hit the stores early so I can take advantage of being first in line. Then there are steaks that are large and the cuts may even be thin…but if it is a good price…I buy them. Usually a good price means a good family size package, but I never worry about that…I am a freezer girl.

Deny Tenderizer

Deny Tenderizer

I just bought a kitchen tool that is simply the bee’s knees of tenderizing. It has many steel needles that you use to prick the steak and it cuts through the meat and leaves it tender. Then you sprinkle your favorite steak spice mix over the top and it sinks down into the meat. You let the meat sit in the fridge for a couple of hours and then put it out to come to room temperature and it will grill up so easy. It makes the meat easy to cut, easy to chew and easy to cook in an even pattern. I often cook more than we will eat…then I slice the left overs to put on top of a salad the next day…YUMM

Mother was the Queen of Budgets and she had a trick with less than stellar meat. She would marinate it for 3 to 5 days in a freezer ziplock bag. The meat would come out so tender and tasty you would never know it was not a top/prime cut. So here is the recipe…I know you will enjoy it. Please give it a try.

TOOT’S STEAK 3 – 5 Day MARINADE RECIPE

Heavy ZipLock type bag for 3-5 day Marinade

Heavy ZipLock type bag for 3-5 day Marinade

1/3 cup olive oil poured right into the gallon size Ziplock bag.
1/8 cup soy sauce (low sodium is what I use)   *  1/8 cup wine (left over red or white…or wine vinegar–or rice wine vinegar)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley  *  1 Tbsp minced garlic (I buy a jar of it pre-minced in the veggie department to have handy)  *  1 Tbsp dry minced onion  * cracked pepper -Do not add salt, use that when the marinade is finished and you are ready to cook the meat.
Mix it all in the bag and place the meat in and take out the air and zip close the bag carefully so your meat tray does not get wet. I always mark the day that I want to use it..usually on the third day…so I don’t get busy and forget the process. Then I put it in the bottom of the fridge in the meat drawer and every day, I turn it over to really keep all the meat covered with the sauce. (Yes, I do use the Deny tenderizer blades but that is a new step, mother never had one…and the marinade always turned out fabulous!)

Now if the senior has trouble cutting their food. You can put the meat in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you put it in the marinade. Then take it out and easily cut the meat into strips…marinate it like that. When you are ready to prepare the meat you can then cut it further or it will be soft enough for the senior to cut on their own.

RECIPE for preparing the meat once it is marinaded.

Fast Stir Fry Recipe

Stir Fry the meat strips (or cut into smaller bite size)  with a great mix of veggies from your own veggie drawer or buy a frozen Stir Fry Veggie Mix…they even have a fresh Stir Fry Mix all made up for you in the fresh veggie isle. You will use a bit of sesame seeds in olive oil and heat it..then quickly fry the meat strips on both sides keeping the mixture moving in the pan and then add in the veggies. Toss the veggies around so they mingle with the meat. When the veggies are getting a little soft…you use a couple of Tbsp of the marinade as the juice for the stir fry and cover the pan…lower the heat for a couple of minutes and you will have a great dinner in under 8 minutes. Serve over rice.

Old Fashioned Meat and Potatoes Fry Recipe

Once again you can use strips or smaller bite size cuts of the 3-5 day marinade meat. First heat up the pan with veg/corn oil and get it hot. Slice a medium sweet onion and separate the rings and put into the hot oil…keep on top of this…you want your onion to slowly caramelize and it will smell so good while you stir it around the pan. Then when the onion has taken on that wonderful caramel color add in your meat and stir it all till the meat is browned. Do not over cook it…because the marinade meat cooks fast. Then add in sliced fresh mushrooms and cook till they are tender. You will want to add a small pat of butter and 1 tsp of the minced garlic while you are stirring the mushrooms.

Swanson's Beef Flavor Boost Packets

Swanson’s Beef Flavor Boost Packets

In another small pan or in the microwave…make up a pre-packaged brown gravy mix…or mushroom gravy mix. I like to use my favorite Swanson’s Beef Boost Seasoning Packets with a little water in a pan and stir in Wonder Flour and it will thicken up in no time. YUMM…love a quick nice gravy.
Now pour the gravy into the meat and mushroom pan and stir it around and serve over noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice. Old fashioned meal, with a quick and easy twist. Hello…tell me when you make this, I really do want to be there for dinner ;)

Blessings on all you do for your senior. Because of you, your senior has the love and care that will keep them safe and comforted on their journey. Please click on the “sign-up” button so you get my updated blogs. Because Georgie is getting more advanced in his need for care…I have less time to spend on blogs. But I am always here for you if you have issues or questions on care giving….Thank you for sharing the site with your friends and family…I really appreciate it. francy

High Protein Breakfast for Shut-in Seniors

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Dear Francy writes about high protein breakfast and recipes with ideas for care. Francy Dickinson

Up out of bed senior eats breakfast at table

Getting George out of bed and feeding him breakfast at the table

Dear Francy; My dad refuses to eat anything but fruit loop cereal every day. I know this is not enough for him, what can I do?

Many seniors get into a daily eating pattern. Cereal is a common easy repeat, so is toast, care givers have to learn how to tweek it so the daily habit is healthy. First, do not try to remove their favorite food. Just make a change in a slow way.

Almond milk can be added to the diet in place of regular cow’s milk. Many older seniors grew up with milk and simply love it. They want it at each of their meals, but many seniors find that milk starts to be a problem with their medications, or causing a build-up of mucus. Adding almond milk to the mix is a great way to move them into a different direction. If you have not tried Vanilla Almond Milk…do it! It has a great flavor that is low in carbs and really a wonderful addition to the shut-in diet.

My mother got into Pillsbury, Toaster Strudels. She wanted them for every meal. So what do you do? I said that she could have them for breakfast every other day. She was fine with that. I also gave her strudels, if she was feeling unwell, as a comfort food. She was in her late nineties when I cared for her, so to me, her wishes and likes were always honored. At the same time, I had to make sure she had more protein in her diet.  I would put protein drinks or powder in everything I made for her.

My husband George (who is now fighting Alzheimer’s) loves his bagels with apple butter topping. So, once again, I allow him the bagel, but only twice a week. That way I can get his protein breakfasts in the door and keep his sugar levels on a study stream. **Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients need to keep a higher sugar level to help their emotions. Just the opposite of the diabetes senior that needs to watch their in-take of sugar and of carbs.  NOTE: Carbs, like breads and such, change into sugar as the body absorbs them.

I will use your senior’s favorite as Breakfast A – It does not matter what it is…it’s going to be on our list as B-A: or substatute with a Fruit smoothie for a change of pace.

Your Weekly Breakfast Menu:

Monday Breakfast:
B-A or a Fruit Smoothie (You will find a great recipe on my food/recipe site CLICK HERE)

Tuesday Breakfast:
Hot cereal – with 2tsp of brown sugar or honey in the cooking water/ Sprinkle the –top with flax flakes or Metamucil powder – top it with Vanilla almond milk, or vanilla protein shake.

–>This means the hot cereal is packed with the daily needs of a senior for their bowel functions. Then it is adding in a boost of protein with a topping of the almond or protein milk. If the senior needs to watch their sugar in-take use a sugar substitute.
–>Some Seniors really like oatmeal, others like cream of wheat, then you have the troops that like their regular cereal mixed with hot milk. You judge and serve what feels right and adds nutrients.

Wednesday Breakfast: B-A or a Fruit Smoothie

Thursday Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs n Yogurt
–>Adding in 2 tbp of protein drink or Vanilla almond milk, sprinkle in the flax flakes or Metamucil power, salt n pepper with a drop of Tabasco Sauce. Mix this with a blender, or a whip and really make it fluffy. Pour into your preheated pan (Pam spray if needed) and either stir for scrambled or let heat through for an omelet. Serve with a great flavored yogurt.

–>Ok so this is a great way to get more into eggs, then just eggs. You can always use your Eggbeaters (or egg whites) with this just make sure you whip it so it’s foamy. This makes great eggs and you have everything in the mix to add the bulk and the sugar and the drop of Tabasco…why? Seniors lose their ability to taste. It makes eating so bland and so boring they start to pull away from their food. You do NOT want to add to much spice, it can really upset a stomach…but just a drop (and I mean a tiny drop) will just add to the taste along with the salt and pepper. The yogurt will calm down any heat that it causes in the tummy and add even more protein and helpful things for the intestines. I know I keep harping on bowels. But just trust me; when you are older and in trouble with your health, your bowels go wacky. You need to help seniors keep steady and adding daily Metamucil helps. If their problems are in the opposite direction, you can add a stool softener to their daily morning pills.

Friday Breakfast: B-A or Fruit Smoothie

Saturday Breakfast: Protein from the refrigerator.
This is a Danish treat, an open-face sandwich served for breakfast with different things on top from the left-overs in your refrigerator.  This makes for a change of pace and perks the senior up to see what is on the sandwich.

–>What you want to make sure is that the only bread you buy for a senior is loaded with brans, whole-wheat, seeds and such. It makes great sandwiches and good toast. Take one piece of bread and toast it.
–>Then you will use something to spread on the top. It could be cream cheese, (I like the soft kind with flavors that you can buy in a tub and lasts longer than the brick.) yogurt, apple sauce or apple butter. It’s now time to sprinkle your bran, flax or Metamucil over the spread.
–>Look in the fridge and pull out bits and pieces. Chicken or meats from last night’s dinner are perfect. Paper-thin cut the meat and layer it on the toast that you covered with cream cheese. Add a sprinkle of sliced tomato or cooked veggies from the dinner. Sprinkle it with Mrs.Dash to give it more of a kick and serve. You can serve it as it is, or put it back into the toaster oven and toast the top for a minute or two…either way, its Yummy!  You might want to serve it with V-8 juice; now available in veggie and fruit mixes.

Sunday Breakfast: You have more time today; let’s make it a day for pancakes for the whole family.
–>You can make a larger batch for the gang.  If you are cooking just for your senior, make the batch and then layer the unused cooked pancakes with wax paper and place in a freezer bag. That way you can reach in the freezer and get a couple of pancakes anytime the senior is in need of a calming meal.

–>The only difference with these pancakes would be instead of using the water to mix into the pancake pre-mixture — you add in your protein drink with the same measurement. If the senior is the only one eating the cakes, go ahead and add in the bran, flax or Metamucil in the batter. Cook them like you normally do, the only difference will be that you added more protein to the batter, it will not show in the taste.
–>I like to serve these with fruits and a dollop of yogurt on top. It is so easy to buy frozen berries in the market. They last for ages and you can open them and use a ½ cup for a recipe anytime you like. Perfect to add to a smoothie or other toppings. Not to mention, the yogurt is not just a treat to eat in the whole cup, you can open it and use it, a dollop at a time, during the day in different ways which will sneak-in the added protein.

Cooking for seniors in care is always a challenge.
I try to keep in mind what the nutrition rules are and how I can make things taste good, yet, always add-in good nutrients to their meals. Simple foods? Yes. But, even everyday breakfast can make the day start with a mind that is healthy and food on a tummy that will absorb the many medications that your senior will have to take.

As always, check those medications. You may find one has to be taken “before food” if it does, you want to take that pill to the senior with water as you wake them up or get them going in their morning toilet. You can then go and prepare their meal while the medication dissolves into their system.

Because everyone asks about food, recipes and meal ideas; I am going to try to add more tips in this direction and I have started to put ideas down for a care giving cookbook. In the meantime…good news, my care guides are almost out the door. They will be ready in March…yeah.

Blessings on your care giving…you make a huge difference with the time and love you give to your senior, thank you. francy

New senior care book will be out in March - YEAH! That's mother "Toots" and me with loads of good ideas for care.

One Dish Thanksgiving Dinners for Seniors

by francy Dickinson          www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; Hard to get Mom and Dad to join us now they are both more comfortable at home. They both have limited eating, dont chew well and don’t do sugar well. So the full turkey dinner doesnt work any more, but I want them to enjoy the day and a special dinner. Last year my leftovers were left in the refrigerator for days and it was just a waste of my time to have gone over with them in the first place…suggestions?

Yes…here you are this works great for me. These ideas come from your kitchen after you have cooked your dinner, you use your own left overs and then take the dishes to the elder/senior family member’s home to reheat. It tastes great and I have done it many times and the senior is left with a good dinner and no mess or fuss.

  1. One Dish Thanksgiving Dinner for Elder As you are picking up your holiday dinner grease a glass square baking dish and put some stuffing in it, then add in some cranberries, a small dollop of mashed potatoes, a big scoop of green bean casserole,  some cut up turkey both white and dark, and stir in some of your gravy. Stir and spread out. Now top it with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. This is their dinner, its a casserole with all the goodies in it already. It can be heated in the oven or microwave and give them a great dinner….add in a separate container of gravy to put on top of it and U have an easy pick up and two nites of yum.
  2. Toasted Turkey Sandwich & More: Slice left over turkey and put into zip lock and make a good loaf of bread in your bread maker or buy a nice loaf at the bakery. This bread is like an oatmeal type that is dark and crusty. Slice bread and put mayo on each side. Break up the turkey with your fingers so it is easy to chew and cover one side of the bread with turkey…on the other side of the bread put a tbsp of gravy and spread over the bread like U did the mayo. Keep it open face and put into broiler or toaster oven and heat through…I like to toast it so both sides of bread are heated and toasted. Remove and before you close it up to serve spread some cranberry sauce (the jelly type) thinly over the hot turkey. Cut and serve this marvelous hot turkey sandwich
  3. Pasta Dish for Picky Eaters: Take over some gravy and turkey left overs, small amount of green bean casserole and stuffing. Prep a small amount of pasta in boiling water. In another pan stir fry the cut up turkey and small amount of green bean casserole and a couple of tbsp of stuffing. When it’s heated, add in some gravy like you would any sauce. Drain the pasta and put the stir fry and sauce over the top and you have a nice pasta dish with the great taste of Thanksgiving that is easy to eat and nice as left overs.
  4.   No Crust Pumpkin Pie: This is nothing fancy…it is the pumpkin can recipe that makes such a nice pumpkin pie – dont forget using Splenda instead of sugar is just as good and you can not taste the difference. The different twist is that you do not use a crust. You butter the pie plate and then put in 1/4 cup of corn meal…over the sink you roll the pie plate till it is dusted with the corn meal and shake out the rest in sink. Then you pour in your regular filling and cook it as you would any pumpkin pie. This is all you need, it is easier to eat, faster to make and can be cut and served warm or cold…with whip cream…Total yum here so know I have made this for years and it works every time…I am just a Libby pumpkin pie girl and proud of it.

I take over the dinner ingred and make it right there. I start with the pie and it is cooking as I do the dinner. Buy the time they are done eating the meal the pie is hot out of oven and I cut a tiny piece and top with whip cream…they get to have a little smell of Thanksgiving in their house too. If they have no kitchen then you take it over all pre-done and ready to hit in microwave or stove top. Seniors do not have smell or taste as they get older so a little more salt is a must so they can taste the food. Obviously you can do this the day after the holiday or in the evening of the holiday. I have found my sisters and I like to take a break and make the trip to moms to visit and enjoy some time with her. Plus, it gave us another excuse for a second piece of pie!

Happy Holidays….francy

Your Mom Just Now Needs More Care at Home-Great Ideas-

by francy Dickinson                     www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear francy: After realizing that mom needed more care than a phone call each day things have changed. We just got through cleaning Mom’s home after years of her ignoring the mess. She had not hoarded she just did not clean. So rooms were filled with old things and now the family has cleaned it out and we are starting fresh. We had every room painted and the bath faucets updated and the kitchen got a new smaller stove and new microwave. We took your advice and got it ready for care givers. One of the bedrooms is now ready for an overnight guest or caregiver, the closets of old clothes in each room are clean too. Now it looks empty and mom is really feeling a cross between happy to have it clean and making it her own again. She is recovering from her stroke but I live two hours away and can only do so much with my weekly visits.

Well, lets start at the beginning, what a great job you and your three brothers did on the house. And how smart of you to clean and paint and ready the house for a sale if that has to happen in the near future. Since your mom is doing so much better and only needs her meals and a daily care visit of two hours, I think you have a great program going. The job now is to keep your mom busy and that might take some thinking.

Lets talk about depression its much more common than you can imagine. Strokes often effect the brain with sadness and so does the recovery from other health issues and of course the loss of a spouse. This whole house cleaning could also set off sadness in her daily routine. Even though your dad passed years ago, she is now just facing her own older and less able to do things lifestyles. I’m sure she thought that your dad would be there to help her at this time of life and the grieving can resurface. It can be treated with drugs that help so much, but so does therapy. Even though your mom is older it would not hurt to have her do a 4 session therapy round to give her a chance to express her personal feelings to someone other than family. She may smile when you are there but she may be very sad or teary on her own, so check this out. That way she can really close some personal issues and adjust to her new life of being less mobile and more home bound. It is not easy to make that change. So even though you are there for her and your love and support is strong…your mom needs some time talking things through and getting her new lifestyle started with healthy thoughts. What you dont want is for her to be upset or confused or just feeling lonely and no one really knowing about it because she is keeping quiet.

So, lets remake the home area that has been so well cleaned and updated.  Start with an area for her to write down things she needs on a listing by her chair. If she thinks of something she writes it down and when you come on Tuesdays she can give the list to you. You can review and try to handle what ever is on the list in a wise manner. That will keep her feeling that her inability to leave the house and drive is not stopping her from getting things and items in order in her life.

Put together a plan to decorate in a lovely way for each season so she can enjoy her home or any room she lives in as time passes.  Take older pictures of family and choose one or two and have them enlarged and put up on the wall like large art pieces. This removes the clutter of fifty small family frames, into a just a couple of stellar photos that reflect years ago and the current family picture. The older pictures can be scanned and put on a nice mp3 frame that will show a slide show when you touch the screen. Always put your father’s picture in a nice frame and have it where she can enjoy it..maybe one with them both as a couple but do not over do. Memories are to be cherished not overwhelming.

Add a little color with throw pillows and a good lap throw so she has color around her without changing wall color. If there is some money, recover  her better furniture It will be familiar but updated to a current nice color that reflects her personality. Add a grandchild corner with a big basket of toys for the visiting little ones. That way the kids enjoy the visit and she has a reminder of her lovely little ones around her. The house will remain clean, safe to walk around and yet feel updated with things that are currently special to her. Not things that have been there and forgotten for 30 years.   

Remember that when any person pulls their world back down into their own home or care center, their universe is smaller and therefore becomes more intense. So do not be alarmed if she gets upset with things that you feel are small and silly. The room temperature  may bother her to distraction, the way she feels sitting in her chair may be uncomfortable. What used to be a minor issue among many daily tasks is now the only issue. Deal with them as they come up and just allow her to vent until you arrive each week.

Here are some changes that you will have when your Senior is home bound:

  1. The TV may not be right for her. It becomes a big part of her life, so a new set that she can see and use the remote. Adding Dish or Comcast will give her more channels and a constant reminder of how to use the channels and the remote will be required for quite a while tell she understands the process. You might also try moving an old set in a closer position or get her headphones that plug into the TV so she hears without a high volume. History, sports and Military channel for the guys and food, home, mystery channels for the ladies…it makes a huge difference. Set the TV with text to run on the bottom of the screen if your senior is hard of hearing so they really enjoy the viewing time.
  2. Get her into a senior center and drop her off once a week to involve her with other seniors for as long as she can do this with her health issues. This can be cards, bingo, special exercise classes, lectures, lunches, food gifting, crafts and outings. You will find that the first visit needs you by her side and then they get drawn in and really enjoy this time. It will fill their mind with things during their week and help their emotional stability. It is worth having a care giver or senior in neighborhood driving them to and from and that could be a $10-$20 investment well made for the transportation. There are vans for seniors and you can try that too.
  3. Plan events in their homes for your active family members. OK so Thanksgiving is coming up. Did you know that around the holiday many local grocery stores do full turkey dinners? You can order one for a week before Thanksgiving. They will cook the whole meal and it only needs to be picked up, warmed and served. Then invite some family and old friends over for and early Thanksgiving. This will be a full month of getting ready and making plans without the worry over the cooking and lots of left overs to give away. Then the actual holiday comes and your senior can attend the family dinner or stay home without sadness because they had their own nice celebration the week before. Works well for many.
  4. Each visit you need to open the refrigerator and make sure the senior is eating food that is being delivered and prepared. Just because food is in the house does not mean the senior is eating it. So look through the refrigerator. If the senior gets into a special diet of potatoes or just canned chili or other items dont worry, it will work itself out. Just make sure they are eating and add a Boost dietary drink so they get plenty of protein. Tell dr about the eating if it gets bad and he will prescribe meds that increase the hunger issue.
  5. On your visit ck the cleanliness of the kitchen that is a care giver job and you want to make sure the staff you hire for your senior is doing their job. Clean counters, floors, and appliances are a must…check. If it is not clean, report the caregiver to the service and ask for another care giver or more time each week for a good cleaning.
  6. Check on the bathroom for the senior, it should be very clean, the caregiver also is responsible for that area. The bathchair should be in the tub the handheld shower should work and be clean. The towels should be in order. If your senior has old towels remove them. You will need four good bath towels and a stack of hand clothes to make sure your senior is able to get good care. I am sure you know that the most important person you can hire to care for your senior is a bath lady. They are well trained to do a great job and will report injuries, sickness, dizziness and any other problem with your senior. You always find professional at a “In home care service” they provide a variety of care people to hit the needs you might have. They are licensed and bonded but once you use them…all expensive jewelry and family things should be given away or put into the bank box…you dont want great grandma’s brooch to be lost to the family because you did not follow through with this.
  7. How is the mail box at your senior’s home. Is it on the porch and easy for them to use, or across the street? Maybe you need to buy a new one that is larger and easier to use. Or have the mail all forwarded to the home of the person caring for your seniors finances. Getting mail each day, can be a dangerous task for those that do not walk well. If they still want their daily mail, put the pick up on the care givers to do list. Or ask a long time neighbor to drop it off and put a box on the front porch for them to do so. Then  make sure you thank the neighbor often with cookies or a box of candy so they know they are appreciated. This daily ck in by a neighbor can save a life one day.
  8. Watch the charge cards of seniors, they tend to build up if they sit and order items from TV or the phone. You can stop unwanted calls by removing their names on phone lists. You can get a special service added to the phone that will filter calls from anyone but approved family and friends. You can also get a good easy to hear phone with special features for hearing disabled. You can add a cell phone to your own family plan and have your senior wear it on a holder around their neck or in a belt. Teach them how to call for help and call you…you can also add a home protection service that is a button for the senior to push if they are hurt or need help.
  9. If the senior looks out into the yard from their family or living area…get the grass cut and the bushes trimmed and load up the beds with bark. You dont have to make gardening a hobby at your mother’s place, but keeping it looking in order will relax her and help the home to re-sell in the near future. If you have teens in the family ask them to make the garden and grass their task and pay them a small amount. Taking care of the home and keeping it safe will allow your senior to relax and enjoy their life. Instead of them worrying over uncut grass and the house slowing breaking down around them.
  10. Make rules for your time…if your siblings want to visit great…but remember your mother is a part of your family…just a part. Make her needs work into your life with your calendar days not her’s. She is at home each day you are working and keeping another home. So be kind, but be strong about saying I will come down on Tuesdays and get what ever I can done that afternoon and evening…the rest will have to wait till my next visit. She will soon learn the routine and she will be happier knowing you give time to her but still have time for you and your own life.
  11. Care starts small…a day here, an hour there and soon it becomes overwhelming. Remember when you make any decision have an idea of what will happen in time to come. That way each step your mother takes in her recovery and her advancement with her declining health issues- is a step that fulfills her life but is in line with her future care. What I mean is do not spend a lot of her money on things for a home that will not repay, her money is limited and will be needed for care giving in the future. If she wants fancy clothes but she can not go out the door, try to adjust her thinking to clothing that is fresh and easy for at home comfort. It takes a mind change for you both…and that is what you now must make a change and realization that your mom is older and is declining in health.But her today and tomorrow can be happy and fun and filled with hope.

I appreciate your email and that my ideas have already helped you make solid decisions on your mom’s care. You are doing a great job and thank you for your care. Please do visit my web site and remember I have written a book on Senior Care Workbook 101 that really helps with all the decisions and care that will be happening as time goes on. You will find the workbook on my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Blessings, francy

7 Easy Meal Recipes for Shut-in Seniors

by Francy Dickinson                              www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My Dad simply will not eat any of the food that they deliver to him. I have tried to buy him good frozen dinners -he hates them. How can I help him eat well at home?

I have a few ideas from my days going through the same thing with my mother. She loved to cook, but her last few of months living on her own left her to weak to cook. But some times it’s good just to know that a home cooked meal will arrive once or twice a week. If you’re alone or cook for a family a good dinner that’s made in the slow cooker or on Sunday when you have time – will go a long way. The key will be you making a week’s menu andputting it on the refrigerator. That way the senior knows what to eat each day. I used a piece of masking tape on the different microwave reheat containers with numbers and then put the numbers next to the menu days. If  they have to add something like fresh salad to his reheat dish, then just add it to the menu list. Be sure to put the re-heat microwave time next to the meal so he does not over cook. He will be involved but it will be easy and taste good to him.

If you are able to give him one day a week of a few hours you can pre-fix 7 easy meals. It will take time to shop and time to pre-cook. But the meals are designed to be fast prep and healthy. You’ll need a few good re-heat Rubbermaid type of containers so its easier for him to grab, nuke, add the salad sides and eat! I would do it at his place so he sees you cooking and appreciates your time and he can enjoy the smells from his kitchen. I have the shopping list at the end.

  • 1st dinner/ Buy a pre cooked roasted chicken – this is good for 2-3 meals. You prep them like this. Slice one breast and dark meat piece and heat with mashed potatoes and gravy from the deli section of the store (buy small container) If there are left overs store for lunch next day. Mark the menu for your dad to add in some carrot salad (or Jello salad) from the deli section (small container) after he has microwaved the dinner. Left overs can be a possible lunch
  • 2nd Dinner/Take the other chicken breast and slice it up and toss with Ranch Dressing. (This is for the inside of 2 torteas.) Add one chopped Roma tomato to the shredded chicken breast, sprinkle with shredded cheese – roll tight and store in wax paper. This makes a good dinner it goes into the microwave for 3 min to heat. He can add a side of his carrot or Jello salad.
  • 3rd Dinner/Dinner from your place/ One good weekly meal that you served your family and set aside a portion for the senior. It could be a nice soup, chile, stew or roast. This is the best dinner he will get so make sure it has gravy and plenty of spice to make it tickle his palette. You can find ideas on Slow Cooker Meals added to your IGoogle page/its an application for your home page. 1-2 servings
  • 4th Dinner/Fish – a small one meal piece of whte fish that’s easy to cook fast. Put in a covered micro container to steam. Be sure to add Ranch dressing, chopped green onion and squirt with lemon juice before you steam the fish. It will cook in about 3-4 minutes. Take out and cool then place on the reheat plate and add a side of Rice a Roni type of rice mix. Pick a fresh green veggie that you will steam for two dinners. You can use broccoli or asparagus. Steam it up in the microwave with plastic on top and a little water in the casserole dish. Add a sprinkle of flavored herb mix like Mrs. Dash on top and a dollop of butter or marg. This will be used for the fish and another dinner
  • 5th Dinner/Left over chicken pieces a leg, thigh and wing. Put on a micro dish and cover top with BBQ sauce to give the chicken a different flavor. Add a side of baked beans and another helping of green salad that you buy pre-mixed.
  • 6th Dinner/This meal is a fried meal. You can choose for him/1 hamburger steak or 2 pork chops. Either one is cooked the same; open the meat and let set while you’re doing the rest of the meals. Heat the oil and rub or dip meat into flour and then fry in oil. You will put salt, pepper, and always use paprika and a steak spice mix on them as they cook and you turn them over after they brown. Sprinkle spice/herbs on top of them as you turn them. If it’s pork chops; brown them and put some jam on the top or a squirt of maple syrup and add 1/2 cup of water – cover for 20 minutes on a low bubble. If it’s the hamburger steak than you want to dab a little BBQ sauce on the top and cover for an additional10 minutes on low. This meal is served with the rest of the Rice a Roni type of mix and the rest of the green veggies that you have pre-cooked.
  • 7th Dinner/Buy the fresh pasta(ravioli) and the Tomato Sauce in the deli section. They come in pre-pared containers. You can add the ravioli to the place and put the tomato sauce on top and add a sprinkle of Parmesanon top. You will put a side of Italian spice bread on the side. You can find the bread all pre-herbed with garlic and such in the frozen section.
  • Add in a good selection of fruits, yogurts, nutritional drinks and sweets for the in betweenfood. Make sure his morning is started with a good cereal served withVanilla Silk (soy-milk).  Have some pretzels, and some gummy bears for him to enjoy and snack. If you choose the better snacks he will have a better choice of good foods for his day.  

Your Shopping list:  You may have to shop for spices or condiments that you like to use when you cook- to put in his cupboard.

1 fully cooked chicken (the kind they roast at the grocery store)
1 hamburger steak or two pork chops
1 piece of white fish that is large enough to serve the senior
1 package of Rice A Roni (Chicken flavor type of rice mix)use for 2 dinners
1 small mashed potato container from deli section
1 small chicken gravy container from deli section
1 small carrot salad from deli section (2 dinners)
1 large pre-mixed green salad from the salad section so this will be a side for two dinners
1 BBQ Sauce – I like to use the honey BBQ
1 Ranch dressing
1 can of Baked Beans for one dinner – use rest for a lunch
1 bunch of broccoli or other green veggie to steam for 2 dinners
2 Roma tomatoes
1 bunch of green onion
1 RealLemon – lemon juice to have in the senior’s refrigerator
1 serving of deli prepared ravioli
1 serving of tomato sauce from right next to the pastas in the deli section
1 container of Parmesan cheese
1 frozen package of pre-herbed and garlic bread that has individual pieces

These are meals that are easy to pre-pare, take very little cooking and just need you to be solid on getting it all done in one full swoop. Think fast and think easy. Buy most of the things pre-cooked or packaged and then the prep time is less. It’s never fun cooking in a strange kitchen, but take note of what he needs and just add it to the shopping list. As you’re in the kitchen go through the refrigerator and cupboards and throw the old spices and mixes, condiments and baking things that are no longer going to be used. You do not want out of date items on the senior’s shelves.

Please do come and visit my website www.seniorcareforseniors and get more information and tips for senior care. I have a great Care Giver 101 Workbookthat will really help to guide you in the care giving of your senior or spouse.

Thanks francy

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