When is the last time you enjoyed a meal with your aging loved ones?
Research shows that seniors who regularly dine with friends and family tend to eat more and make healthier choices. More importantly, most older adults say they feel happier and more fulfilled when eating with others.
“Sharing a meal is about so much more than eating food,” said Sierra Goetz, co-founder and operations manager at Trail Ridge Home Care’s partner, the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “If your senior has companionship during mealtimes, they’re more likely to be happy and healthy. It’s also an important way to help them maintain their independence.”
October is Eat Better Together month – a great time to make mealtime plans that include your aging loved ones. Below are a few tips that could help you and your senior loved ones make the most of mealtime.
- Try to eat at least one meal with your senior every week and, when possible, make it a family affair – bring the kids, grandkids and others who brighten your senior’s life.
- When dining with older loved ones, set aside your phone and turn off the television. This will allow you to focus all of your attention on each other and great conversations.
- Don’t rush. Take time to enjoy the meal and each other’s company.
- Ask your senior to help with menu-planning, and encourage them to include their favorite foods.
- Choose foods with nutritional value. Your senior’s plate should look like a rainbow – bright colored fruits and vegetables are always a good choice. Also be sure to include foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium.
- To help maintain a healthy weight, help your senior eat the right amount food at mealtime. The American Heart Association offers a guide to help you determine the appropriate serving size based on age and activity level.
- Incorporate herbs and spices to make bland food tastier.
- If time or distance limits your ability to be with your senior loved one, consider hiring a professional caregiver – someone who can help them prepare nutritious meals and, more importantly, sit down and enjoy the meal with them.
“We know that not all seniors have family members who are able to be with them for meals,” Goetz said. “While our caregivers certainly can’t replace family members, they can assist with meal prep and provide the companionship that we know is so important.”
For more information about our companionship and meal prep services, as well as other ways we can help your senior loved one age safely in place, visit www.TrailRidgeHomeCare.com.