Remember when your Mom used to bug you about eating your vegetables when you were a child? Well, in my case the shoe is now on the other foot. My 80ish young at heart mother does not like to eat vegetables. Nor does she like to cook. Her meals consist of supermarket takeout or restaurant leftovers or, sigh!, slices of cake and pie. She has a wicked sweet tooth. I worry she is too thin and malnourished; she brushes it off as earning the right at her age to eat whatever she wants if it tastes good.
According to the nonprofit Feeding America, in 2014, 3.0 million (9%) households with seniors age 65 and older experienced food insecurity (lack of sufficient food). 1.2 million (9%) households composed of seniors living alone experienced food insecurity.
Food insecurity doesn’t only apply to people living in poverty. Many elderly citizens are frail and lack mobility. Some are unable to drive and remain home bound. Others may have the means and the mobility but live alone and simply don’t want to cook or have lost their enthusiasm for eating by themselves.
The impact of poor nutrition can be serious. Feeding America notes that food insecure seniors are at increased risk for chronic health conditions
- 60 percent more likely to experience depression
- 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack
- 52 percent more likely to develop asthma
- 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure
This situation is only going grow as our population ages. The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services reports by 2040 there will be 79.7 million older adults, more than twice as many as in 2000.
If you are like me, living many miles away from an elderly parent, you may worry whether or not your loved one is eating properly. My mother loves sweets and snacks and does not like to cook or eat alone at home. I am constantly giving her tips on healthy eating, remind her that pie and cake are not intended to be main courses, and I worry about her choking on food since she talks with her mouth full (and she loves to chatter!).
Fortunately, there are numerous meal delivery services offering a range of healthy options, from assemble-it-yourself ingredients to pre-packaged meals. One option to make sure your elderly parent is receiving a nutritious meals on a regular basis is to set him/her up with a subscription and pay for it.
But which service is best? Many seniors have health and dietary issues. Feeding America reports that “among its client households with at least one senior, 47 percent report that a household member has diabetes and 77 percent report that a household member has high blood pressure.”
The national non-profit Meals on Wheels is a terrific organization which provides low cost or no cost meals to frail home-bound elderly in certain areas of the country. I support Citmeals-on-Wheels in New York and its great work. I’ve found a few subscription meal delivery services which focus on the needs of people who are elderly and who also may have specific health conditions and dietary needs: Mom’s Meals, Magic Kitchen and Silver Cuisine. Others like Savor Health address the specific and varied needs of cancer patients, but the company’s meal offerings can appeal to any elderly individual. I am currently tasting through meals from each of these company’s offerings and will report on this later.
There are many other meal delivery services focusing on healthy eating. As long as your loved one does not have a medical condition that required specific dietary restrictions, and depending on budget, you may want to check them out. Some restrict delivery to certain metropolitan areas or regions of the U.S.
Alissa Rumsey, a nutrition and wellness consultant, wrote a terrific blog post evaluating several meal delivery services, both assemble yourself and pre-made. Honestly, I was planning to do this research myself but Alissa did such a great job, I will just direct you to her blog! Read here!
Meal delivery services should provide clients details on how to prepare each dish, safety precautions for heating and removing from a microwave to avoid burns, and a list of ingredients in case someone has a nut, wheat or soy sensitivity. Packaging needs to be tightly sealed to avoid leakage but also easy for someone with arthritic hands to open safely. Shipments should arrived in well-insulated and chilled packaging since most items are not shelf stable. And the meals are meant within a few days after delivery; packaging should include a use-by date.
If you think you want to order a service for your parent order a sample for yourself first and prepare it. Menus and food prep vary.
On July 11, Beth Burroughs, a partner with Mom’s Meals, will join me on Fearless Fabulous You! to discuss what you can do to make sure your elderly parent is eating properly. 4pm EST on W4WN and podcast post show permanently to iHeart.com and the free iHeart App. Cur and paste link: http://www.iheart.com/show/209-Fearless-Fabulous-You/