Food Services for the Elderly
Whether you’re a caregiver looking for fast and nutritious meal options for your senior loved one or you’re concerned that your aging parents aren’t eating hot, healthy meals, meal delivery services may be a good option for you.
Discover why America has turned to services like Meals on Wheels to help elderly loved ones stay nourished, happy and healthy.
Food Services for the Elderly
Most people are surprised how many seniors are malnourished across America. Sadly, 1 in 7 seniors is threatened by hunger, reports the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. Just as troubling is the fact that there are an estimated 3.7 million malnourished seniors in the United States, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The good news is that there are food delivery services such as Meals on Wheels and Personal Chef to Go to not only help caregivers, who are usually short on time, but also help seniors who remain at home rather than moving to a senior living community.
But it’s important to do your research and find out if meal delivery service is something that would work for your family as there are specific dietary needs and costs to consider. Learn about some of the meal delivery service options to discover whether they’re right for your senior loved ones.
Is a Meal Delivery Service Right for Your Family?
The Case of the Caregiver
Caregivers are some of the hardest working people in America and sometimes they need a break. It’s no secret that caregiving can take a toll. Not to mention, there’s often not enough time in the day to grocery shop and cook healthy, balanced meals when juggling medical care, work and other responsibilities. This is when good quality meal delivery options may be a good choice for caregivers — and even senior living communities or family homes — who may want to contract meals to gourmet chefs and cooking professionals.
When Your Aging Parents Live on Their Own
Another scenario is that your elderly parents may live far away and you’re looking for a way to help them put hot food on the table. Research from Brown University suggests that home-delivered meal services like Meals on Wheels may help keep seniors with minimal care needs out of nursing homes. Nevertheless, it’s important for caregivers to consider each person’s individual needs to determine whether staying at home is the right choice.
Meal Delivery Service Options
1. Meals On Wheels
Meals On Wheels is the largest national provider of senior meal services. The impressive meal delivery organization is composed of 5,000 nutrition programs across the country and even offers catered menus and dietary food options in some states and counties. Meals on Wheels is part of the no senior is left behind campaign to help nourish seniors in an easy, affordable way and has become one of the “most successful social solutions in America,” according to the organization.
Some Meals on Wheels community programs distribute to local senior centers, while others deliver meals directly to senior’s and caregiver’s homes. You can look for available services in your area by entering your zip code in the tool.
Meal delivery costs vary on the program branch. There are financial assistance programs available.
2. Personal Chef to Go
Personal Chef to Go offers nationwide delivery and provides healthy lunch and dinner options that follow the American Heart Association’s guidelines for healthy living. This wonderful meal delivery service option offers a meal plan to fit specific lifestyles and palettes and even incorporates ethnic flavors such as Mediterranean, Asian or Latin American into gourmet food options.
Personal Chef to Go offers weekly and biweekly delivery options.
Meal plans start at $70 for a five-meal sampler and go up to $175 for a 16-meal plan. Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated without extra charges.
3. Personal Chef
A personal chef may not be an option for everyone as it can be fairly expensive, but it can be ideal as meals are catered depending on your loved ones’ specific dietary needs and palette preferences, and are often cooked in the family home for convenience purposes. Sometimes hiring a personal chef to cook only a couple times a week is a more affordable option, not to mention leftovers can be frozen to use at a later date.
You can find a personal chef in your area, but make sure to do a background check and make sure they’re someone you want to prepare loved ones’ meals or be in the family home. Getting recommendations from those you know is also a great way to find a personal chef who not only cooks satisfying and nutritious meals, but also is someone you can trust.
The costs for personal chefs vary by experience and geographic location. Typically prices can range from $75 a meal to $500 a week.
4. Community Senior Centers and Churches
Many local community senior centers and churches offer hot meals for local residents. Every center is different, however, as some offer meal options multiple days a week, and others only on the weekends; so you’ll need to check with the organizations in your neighborhood. The National Care Planning Council provides more information on helpful community meal options across America.
Meals are served at the community center and carry out is also an option. This service is typically less expensive than delivery services, but the menu options are more limited.
Keep in mind: Community centers and churches can also provide additional information on meal delivery options in your family’s area, so they’re a great place to start to find nutritious meal options near you.
What to Consider When You’re Considering Meal Delivery Services
Even though meal delivery provides more flexibility for seniors who want to remain in their homes or with family, older adults also need social activity for overall wellness. It’s important to consider that meal deliveries may exacerbate loneliness in seniors who are already living in isolation, while assisted living or other senior communities offer a range of social benefits.
But for caregivers who live with their loved ones, meal delivery can offer a break from cooking and helps ease daily stress. For family homes, meal delivery can also be an excellent, nutritious and cost-effective options.
Ultimately, a healthy balance is important and caregivers need to evaluate each individual’s situation in order to determine whether the best option is home care and meal delivery, assisted living, or some other form of care. Learn more about senior nutrition to help you decide what may be right for your family or community.
Have you had any experience with meal delivery service? We’d love to hear your story. Share it with us in the comments below.
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