The food which an elderly person eats during the winter months plays a large part in supporting health and well-being throughout the season. According to the Live-in Care Hub (www.liveincarehub.co.uk) the hearty warming meals provided by carers for their patients are an essential part of keeping their elderly charges healthy and happier when bad weather strikes. Research shows that older people should aim to have at least one nutritious hot meal every day supplemented with regular warm drinks. The task faced by carers when it comes to planning a menu for older people is taking into account things like diminished appetite or difficulty in chewing or swallowing, things which commonly affect seniors. Nutrition needs change in old age As people get older the standard government advice about eating more fruit and vegetables along with less sugary and fatty foods is more or less turned on its head. If someone has a decreased appetite this type of daily diet is far from suitable as fruit, salads and low-fat foods are not enough to fulfil the nutritional requirements of an older person who may be struggling with illness or disease. Warming food which is nutritious and easy for the older patient to consume should make up the bulk of the diet during colder weather. Soups and sandwiches Soups are generally easy to eat and can be filling especially those which contain meat, potatoes and other vegetables. Served with bread or with pasta added to the soup this is one idea for a speedy but nutritious meal. Sandwiches are a useful option for a patient who has a reduced appetite and can’t face a full meal. Cheese, sardines or tuna make excellent sandwiches, are easy to eat and are a good source of calcium and essential fatty acids. Main meals A traditional roast dinner may be too much but there are ways to enable the elderly patient to get their quota of meat. Chicken, beef or pork can be served in a variety of ways including stir fry, with green vegetables, roasted with boiled potatoes or made into soup or stew. In fact it’s simple enough to make up a batch of warming, hearty stew using tender pieces of meat, carrots and other veg to keep on standby or to freeze. Fish pie using prepared, frozen fish pieces is very quick to put together. Vegetables can be mashed to make them easier to eat. Puddings and desserts Milky puddings like rice pudding and other dairy products like full-fat yoghurt or fromage frais provide essential calcium for bone health. Porridge using semi-skimmed milk and with mixed berries or honey also provides essential nutrients and fibre. Keep the warm drinks coming Tea and coffee are welcome drinks on a cold day but be careful not to overdo the caffeine. Green tea and herbal or fruit teas are healthy alternatives. The No Place like Home report found that a milky malted drink like Horlicks just before bedtime is a popular choice.