Senior individuals who eat most of their meals alone are more than twice as likely to feel lonely compared to those who enjoy meals with others.
According to a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., social isolation can be deeply impactful, causing lonely people to skip more than 20 percent of their total meals each year.
As we return to a more familiar way of life and begin to gather again in person, enjoying a shared meal with older friends and family can strengthen relationships and it likely will positively impact the quality of food the aging adults consume.
To encourage families to spend more time with older loved ones around the dinner table, Home Instead in Pinehurst has launched a free community program. The companionship diet offers free resources such as conversation starters, nutritious recipes and tips for involving seniors in the meal preparation process.
“We know that being together at mealtimes reduces feelings of isolation and improves nutritional intake. But the pandemic has made this increasingly difficult for seniors – impacting their overall health” said Bob McCarthy, owner of the Home Instead office serving Moore County.
“Studies show that lonely seniors skip more than 20% of their meals, so bringing them together, especially at mealtime, can help keep them healthier and happier.”
There are a number of ways local families can include older adults during mealtime, McCarthy added: Involve your loved one in the preparation process. If they are up for it, ask your loved one to help with making the meal.
Perhaps they can help mash the soybeans, potatoes or frost the cake. If your loved one doesn’t want to help with meal preparation, he or she can sit and chat while you’re cooking and help provide instructions or share old family recipes and stories. Plan simple and healthy meals.
Check-in with older adults before dinner and ask them to select a favorite recipe that you could make. Even better, ask them for their favorite childhood foods and incorporate them into mealtime. Include grains, fruits, and veggies for balanced nutrition. Remember to be mindful of portion size with seniors