Craving Companionship

by MichelleR on June 25, 2012

It is dinnertime and what your senior parent is likely craving the most is to share a favorite family meal with you.

That’s according to research conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care® network, which revealed that lack of companionship is the biggest mealtime challenge for seniors.* The local Home Instead Senior Care office is encouraging family caregivers to dig into the family recipe box to find that favorite dish, and prepare and share a meal with their senior loved one.

“Many seniors need help planning and preparing nutritious meals,” said Michelle Rogers, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Mountain View. “But that’s only part of the story. So many seniors want to relive a time around the dinner table when they are sharing their lives with the people they love most. Home Instead Senior Care network research reveals that seniors who live alone want good-tasting, nutritious food and stimulating conversation when they share home-cooked meals with family and friends.”

Craving Companionship can be a sign for families to find time to help their loved ones prepare the foods they’ve always loved and enjoy those dishes with them. “Who likes to eat alone? Nobody,” said Sandy Markwood, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), expert source for the Craving Companionship program.

“We know from the popular home-delivered meals program, also known as “Meals On Wheels®,” that companionship is among the most important needs of local seniors. Older adults often look forward to the delivery driver as much as the meal,” Markwood noted. “We share the Home Instead Senior Care mission to help older adults live with confidence at home for as long as possible by providing the support they need. Because when a senior is isolated, it’s indicative of bigger challenges that person could be facing.”

Two of five seniors who live alone (44 percent) have at least four warning signs of poor nutritional health**. According to Home Instead Senior Care network research, the most common of these warning signs and their incidence rates are:
 Eating alone most of the time (76 percent)
 Taking three or more different medications a day (71 percent)
 Eating few fruits, vegetables or milk products (46 percent)
 Having an illness/condition that prompted a change in diet (31 percent)
 Not always being physically able to shop, cook or feed themselves (25 percent)

Furthermore, the research confirms the value of mealtimes. An overwhelming majority of seniors (85 percent) say that having someone to share their meals makes those times more satisfying for them. In addition, nearly one-half (48 percent) say their mealtimes are more satisfying if they have someone prepare their meals for them.

Sadly, these same seniors say that several factors can get in the way of their mealtime companionship. The most common obstacles that prevent these seniors from sharing more meals are family/friends don’t have enough time (28 percent) or they live too far away (20 percent).
“That’s no surprise since we know from experience families often lack the time to help their aging parents,” Rogers said. “But 59 percent of seniors who live alone say they eat more nutritiously when family and friends are around. They really enjoy having that connection with someone, whether it’s a family caregiver or a professional CAREGiverSM.”

*The Home Instead Senior Care network completed 600 telephone interviews with seniors age 75 and older in the U.S. who live alone in their own homes or apartments. The sampling error is +/-4.0% at a 95% confidence level.

**The warning signs of poor nutritional health were previously identified and published by the Nutrition Screening Initiative.

Previous post:

Next post: