Nothing says summer like a barbecue. When planning a barbecue that includes older people, follow these tips to make sure that it’s fun — and healthy — for everyone.
- Consider the menu. Most seniors have some dietary restrictions. You can inquire directly about what they might be, but you can also be sure to include generally healthy options, like low-sodium, low-fat, sugar-free foods. With today’s increased emphasis on healthy eating for everyone, these “restrictions” don’t mean flavor-free anymore! Even such barbecue staples as hotdogs are available in more healthy varieties, such as turkey dogs and soy dogs. Kebabs can be made with chicken or fish instead of beef. Vegetable kebabs are also a colorful and delicious choice. And don’t just have these on hand for the seniors. You might be surprised to find that the younger members of your barbecue also enjoy them!
- Keep the drinks flowing. A cold beer might be a barbecue classic, but alcohol is generally a bad idea for seniors, especially since it is dehydrating. Fruit-infused water is a healthy, trendy alternative. Be sure to have plenty of sugar-free drinks available, and encourage seniors to drink. Older people, especially those with dementia, often have trouble recognizing when they are thirsty and are therefore more prone to dehydration.
- Put a cherry on top. Or a peach. Or watermelon. Ice cream is not the only possibility for dessert! Take advantage of summer’s bounty, and offer a fruit platter as a healthy alternative. For diabetics, fruit might have too much sugar, and you might want to also have some sugar-free desserts on hand.
- Have it made in the shade. Excess sun exposure is a special issue for older people, so be sure your older guests have a shady place to sit.
Summer barbecues are wonderful opportunities for seniors to enjoy quality time with friends and family. And the benefits of making changes to suit your senior guests extend farther than you realize. All these tips are just as relevant for the rest of your guests!