Stay at Home Tips: Nutrition for Older Adults and Caretakers

See more Extension Stay at Home Tips from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

 For reliable information you can trust about COVID-19 go to


Nutrition for Older Adults and Caretakers

For older adults living at home, this may be a challenging time to eat healthy. Lack of meals at senior centers, difficulty with transportation, and challenges to using online grocery shopping may mean some seniors are not receiving good nutrition. However, this is an important time for older adults to stay healthy, including with nutrition.

How can you make healthy food choices?

Include protein in all your meals. Good sources of protein are:

  • Meat
  • Eggs and dairy
  • Fish
  • Plant proteins like beans and legumes

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables:

  • Fresh, frozen and canned are all healthy
  • Watch labels for added sugars (syrup), salt or added sauces

Make as many of your grains “whole” as you can. Great choices include:

  • Whole wheat breads
  • Whole grain pastas
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal

Follow these tips for grocery shopping:

  • Use recipes and make a list, so you get everything you need for your meals.
  • Be safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands before and after touching food, and before you eat.
  • Consider ordering groceries online to pick up or be delivered.
  • Ask a family member or neighbor to shop or deliver for you, leaving groceries by your door.

Consider ways to make your meals and snacks enjoyable.

  • If you live with someone, eat together at the table and enjoy conversation.
  • If you are comfortable with technology, join family or friends “virtually” for a meal.
  • Treat yourself! Have popcorn for a snack with a movie, or bake your favorite bread or cookie, and have a bit for dessert.

What can you do to help an older adult?

  • Offer to grocery shop for them, or help them learn how to do online shopping.
  • Help someone not comfortable use technology to connect with others for a meal.
  • Check in on any older adult you know, and if they are still struggling to eat healthy, help them find resources:


Know the basics about COVID-19

FOR RELIABLE INFORMATION YOU CAN TRUST, about staying safe and what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms, go to

What are the symptoms? Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms. For many, symptoms are mild, with no fever. It is important to know that you can still spread (transmit) the virus to others even if you have mild or no symptoms. Two to 14 days after exposure, people may experience:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What should I do if I develop symptoms?

If you become ill, stay home and call your doctor if you feel you need medical care or advice. If you are having an emergency, call 911.

  • Each day, write down your symptoms so you can share accurate information with your doctor.
  • Make sure a family member or friend knows that you are unwell and ask them to check on you by phone or video chat every day. Even mild illnesses can quickly take a turn for the worse.
  • Practice good self-care. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

How can I lower my risk of getting COVID-19?

Stay home as much as possible to protect yourself and others.

  • When possible, shop for two weeks of groceries at a time to expose yourself less often.
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after touching door handles, keypads, pens, and other frequently used surfaces.


  • Call the National Disaster Distress Helpline to speak to a trained crisis counselor
    • 800-985-5990
    • 800-846-8517 (TTY)
    • Or text:  TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Access information and resources to help you meet your immediate needs
    • Call 2-1-1
    • Contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center
    • For more ideas, visit the Resilient Wisconsin website.

See more UW-Madison Division of Extension Safer at Home Tips 


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