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What does an older adult want most for dinner? The answer might surprise you. According to re-search conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network, an overwhelming majority of seniors (85 percent) say that having someone to share their meals makes those times more satisfying for them.

Those same seniors revealed that the biggest mealtime challenge for older people who live alone is lack of the shared family experience — including companionship. It’s a message that resonates with both family caregivers and senior care professionals throughout North America.

“Family caregivers and those who work with seniors may agree that older adults often need help planning and preparing nutritious meals,” said Jeff Huber, president and chief operating officer of Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network. “But that’s only part of the story. So many older adults are lacking mealtime companion-ship. They want to relive a time around the dinner table where they can share their lives with the people they love most.”

Bringing mealtimes back to older adults often revives treasured memories, which can contribute to their well-being. That’s the idea behind Home Instead Senior Care network’s Craving Companionship program at www.mealsandcompanionship.com. The program offers tips and practical advice for family caregivers to encourage companionship and easy healthy meals.

Family Support

Craving Companionship is geared to helping families support a nutritiously vulnerable population — older adults who live alone. In the United States, approximately 40 percent of the population age 75 and older — 6.7 million people — live alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sadly, these seniors who are alone say that several factors can get in the way of their mealtime compan-ionship. The most common obstacle that prevents seniors from sharing more meals are family/friends don’t have enough time (28 percent) or they live too far away (20 percent), according to Home Instead Senior Care network research.

The Craving Companionship program is an incen-tive for families to find more 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 offi-cer of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

“Meals are not just a matter of sustenance, but a social outlet. It’s how we come together as a family or a community. When a senior is isolated, it’s indicative of bigger challenges that person could be facing,” Markwood said.

For more information call 910-484-7200 or search www.ho-meinstead.com/647.

Photo: The biggest mealtime challenge for older people who live alone is lack of the shared family experience — including companionship.

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