When today’s seniors were raising families, meals were often a special time to catch up on the day’s events and share family triumphs. Mealtimes are still im-portant to older adults. But circumstances have changed. Many find themselves home alone, with no living spouse and families too busy to enjoy even their own meals at home.
CareGivers from Home Instead Senior Care® network understand the importance of mealtime companionship for seniors be-cause much of their work each day revolves around meal planning and preparation.
Warm and Comfortable
“Mealtime is the highlight of many seniors’ days,” said CareGiver Carolyne Kramme-Burkett, who joins her clients for table-side conversation after she has prepared their meal. “We have a lot of laughter from the news items, and family issues do come up. It makes them feel warm and comfortable. There was a time years ago when mealtime was the center of the day. Everyone got together to share laughter and humor. Fast food has changed that for many families.”
Kramme-Burkett takes pride in making mealtime an event by planning the menu with her clients and adding special touches such as table center-pieces. She helps clients shop by looking for fresh and affordable produce at local farmers’ markets. Family members occasionally drop by to share her gourmet meals and favorite memories with their loves ones.
A Welcome Distraction
CareGiver Donna Kumar said mealtimes are an important distrac-tion for an 84 year old man suffering from ailments of aging. “Mealtime is a huge thing for him,” said Kumar, who often takes her client to lunch. “He’s told me he doesn’t focus on the pain for the three or four hours of the day when I am there. It’s his best meal of the day. He eats a good lunch and it gets him through the day. By dinner he is often in too much pain to eat.”
“It’s so difficult for seniors to lose their independence,” Kumar said. “They can’t do what they used to do. Mealtime becomes the focus and highlight of their day. So it’s nice to have someone they can sit and talk with. That’s the time they can share their story.”
Reliving the Cooking Days
CareGiver Sharon Cornman said mealtimes can help older adults relive their own cooking days even if they can no longer cook in the kitchen. “My client loved to cook so she’ll give me some of her old recipes and I modify them for her current dietary needs. Sometimes we’ll get crazy with new dishes. We’ve tried tilapia with mango and banana chutney made with fresh herbs, cilan-tro and mint,” she added.“
I often engage her in conversation about what her family liked to eat. She’ll say, ‘George and the kids used to love when I made this dish.’ It takes her back and lets her reminisce and share that experience with someone else,” she said.“
I don’t think seniors eat as well if they’re left alone to make a cold sandwich,” Cornman explained. “Having someone around at mealtime is very important to them.”
For more information about the Craving Companionshipprogram, including family recipes and Caring Cards™ that can help facilitate mealtime conversation, go to www.mealsandcompanionship.com.
Photo: Mealtime is the highlight of many seniors’ days.