Meals have long been a time for families to gather together and share food, news, laughs and love. However, as families grow up and move apart from each other, meals can become quite lonely for elderly adults, especially those who live on their own. October is Eat Better, Eat Together Month, which is a good time for family caregivers to take a closer look at how their elderly loved ones are doing with their meals.
Isolation Can Be Harmful to Senior Health
Studies show that eating in isolation can be both mentally and physically unhealthy. Elderly adults frequently eat alone, and it can negatively impact their lives. For most seniors, eating alone becomes a way of life as their children move away and they lose a spouse, friend or siblings. They may struggle with the daily challenges of getting to the grocery store, bringing in bags of food, preparing healthy meals and eating enough calories or too much.
Poor nutrition is linked to many health problems in elderly adults, such as a weak immune system, high blood pressure, obesity or underweight, malnutrition, weakened bones, and poor body functions. When they eat meals alone, there is little incentive to focus on health and wellness. Usually, seniors in this case just prepare food that is easy and fast. However, this usually means it is highly processed or full of fat, sugar, or other unhealthy ingredients. Some seniors skip meals altogether because the food is too difficult to prepare, or they have lost interest in eating.
Lonely meals contribute to poor mental health. Seniors are more likely to struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can lead to poor self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression. Often, eating meals alone or in front of the television highlight how alone they really are, and it can make them sad or grieve for loved ones that have passed on. For seniors with mild to moderate cognitive decline, eating alone can be confusing, frustrating, and sad.
Hire Meal-Prepping Elderly Care Providers
Family caregivers that already have elderly care providers assist their loved ones during the day should consider hiring them to stay with the elderly adult during meals. Not only can the elderly care provider take care of meal planning and preparation, they can eat with the elderly adult to provide companionship and support. Elderly caregivers can shop for food and prepare all kinds of healthy meals that are appealing and tasty to the aging adults. They can account for any dietary restrictions or food preferences that the senior has and create delicious and nutritious dishes.
When the elderly care provider eats meals with the aging adult, it becomes more of a social event. Seniors are more likely to pay attention to what they eat and will eat the proper amounts. Laughter and conversation can lift their spirits as they share a meal with the elderly care provider. Family caregivers that are worried about their aging relative eating alone for meal after meal can find the solution when they hire an elderly are provider to take over meals and make them about more than just food.
If you are considering elderly care in Liverpool, NY, for an aging loved one, please contact the caring staff at Serving Seniors, Inc. We specialize in offering services to the Senior Community in Syracuse and the surrounding area (Clay, Cicero, Liverpool, Baldwinsville, Central Square and others). Call us today! 315-382-4300.
Most seniors can live independent lives for quite some time with just minor assistance. Family and friends cannot always be there to help with daily tasks, but Serving Seniors can help fill the need for transportation, errands, housekeeping, and more. Just a few hours a week can enhance your senior’s independence, happiness and overall quality of life.
Joan assists concerned families seeking a trained caregiver who will treat their loved ones with dignity, respect and compassion. Serving Seniors provides the highest level in-home non-medical care and companionship. Families and seniors can be assured of friendly, personalized service from dedicated, compassionate caregivers.