[A] To develop ready-to-eat meals to address limited mobility of elderly living at home/community setting
With limited mobility, it can be hard for the elderly to travel or be independent in purchasing or preparing food. As a result, elders who live alone may reduce food consumption and rely only on ready-to-eat food products stored at home, leading to malnourishment and poor health over time.
An estimated 30% or more of elderly consumers will require access to ready-to-eat/easy-to-prepare meals. Access to such meals can improve the elderly’s nutritional status, reduce risk of dietary deficiencies and hence lower risk of associated chronic diseases.
While ready-to-eat meals with local flavours are increasingly available for purchase by retail consumers, there is a lack of such products designed for elderly consumers. Increasing the variety of such elderly-friendly ready-to-eat meals would improve nutritional intake and health outcomes for elders staying at home. These meals should include elderly-friendly features such as:
- Smaller quantity but more frequent meal occasions, as elderly consumers have smaller capacity to consume large quantities of food in one sitting
- Adequate nutrition with carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals
- Acceptable texture for elderly consumption; for elderly with swallowing difficulties
Products can be developed for breakfast, lunch and dinner settings. Meals should ideally be priced less than $5 per serving. An estimated 7,000 meals could be required per month.
[Optional] Hospitals and nursing homes typically have central kitchens for meal preparations. However, external catering may occasionally be required due to maintenance or staff shortage. Companies can design elderly-friendly meals that can be used by elder-care institutions in such situations. The meals should cost about $3 per serving.
To provide convenient meals with adequate nutrition and appropriate texture for elders (aged 65 years or above) with limited mobility at home/community setting.
Must have (Core):
- Carbohydrate and adequate protein sources with vitamins & minerals to ensure product partially meet the elderly’s Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
- Each meal to meet 25% of RDI for Singapore adults aged 60 and over, based on 1500-1800kcal per day
- Cater for physiological changes: delayed gastric emptying of older adults à require small frequent meals to meet daily calorie and protein needs
- Nutritionally balanced à calorie content of meal contributed from:
- Carbohydrate: 50-60%
- Fat: 20-30%
- Protein: 15%
- Acceptable texture for elderly consumption:
- Food particle size served should be smaller than usual and bite size, e.g. cut-up solid food (1-2cm), soft solid food (0.1-0.5cm) or blended.
- Moisture content of the food between 70-80%; density of the food between +/-0.9 to 1.2 g/ml and flowability +/->1 cm/30 sec
- May vary depending on type of food
- Asian flavours acceptable to local elderly. Can be enhanced with herbs and spices:
- Spices: Chilli, curry, five spice powder
- Ginger, onions, garlic
- Miso, sambal, etc
Nice to have (Flex):
- Pleasant and pleasing to the eyes
- Easy storage with reasonable shelf life, i.e. ideally > 1 month
- Packaging that is safe and convenient for elders with limited mobility to handle, e.g.:
- Preparation stage: convenient to prepare; preparation process is safe for elders to handle
- Serving stage: easy to open packaging for eating; safe for elders to touch after heating
Must not have:
- Short shelf life, i.e. < 5 days
- Foreign in taste
- Products can be used for elderly consumers at home (i.e. sold at retail or pharmacies), as well as in institutional settings (i.e. use in hospitals, nursing homes).
- An estimated 30% or more of elderly consumers will require such meals. Estimated 7,000 meals per month could be required by lead entity if successfully developed.
- Meals should ideally be priced less than $5 per serving (retail setting); about $3 per serving (nursing home setting).
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