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8 Popular Food Service Options for the Elderly

Angelike Gaunt
By Angelike GauntApril 6, 2020

If your aging parents live in an assisted living community, where meals are often available, nutrition is one less thing to worry about. But if your loved ones live with you or on their own, grocery delivery and food service options can help ensure they still get nourishing, healthy meals. Read on to determine what services best fit your aging loved ones’ needs and budgets.

What to consider when selecting a food service option for seniors

Before choosing a food service, think about:

  • Ability to cook
    Consider whether your loved one would do better with a grocery or meal delivery service. Mobility, balance, and memory issues can make it difficult or unsafe for older adults to cook. For some older adults, prepared meals that just need to be heated up may be a better option.
  • Budget
    If you choose a meal kit or prepared meal delivery service, research options that fit your budget. Costs for these services vary and, in some cases, may be available at reduced rates based on need.
  • Diet restrictions
    Look for options that accommodate your loved one’s dietary needs. Certain services cater to specific diets, such as diabetic-friendly, vegetarian, or low-sodium.
  • Frequency
    Thinking about going the meal kit or prepared meals route? Consider whether your loved ones need these types of meals every day. Either you or they may be able to cook a few times a week, alternating with kits or prepared meals.
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Grocery and meal kit delivery services: convenience and safety for seniors

While grocery delivery services allow you to shop supermarket aisles from the comfort and safety of your home, meal kit delivery services let you choose from weekly menu options to deliver pre-portioned ingredients and recipes that you or your loved one can follow.

Grocery delivery services such as Shipt require a yearly-subscription, while Instacart allows for more flexibility, offering the option to pay a fee each time you order. These services offer door drop-offs to increase safety and minimize any contact.

Blue ApronHello Fresh, and Sun Basket are just a few of several popular meal kit delivery services that offer a variety of plans to fit your loved one’s needs. You can select from options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and decide how often you want meals delivered. Some services also offer meal selections based on your dietary needs and preferences.

However, meal kit delivery services may be expensive. Each serving tends to cost around $9 to $13. Additionally, if you’re thinking about using a grocery or meal kit delivery service, consider whether your aging loved one will have the ability and the energy to cook if you’re not present. While some older adults may enjoy preparing their meals, others may find it challenging, especially if they live alone.

Prepared meal delivery services: when cooking is not an option

Older adults may struggle with cooking for many reasons. They may lack the skills, time, or motivation to prepare healthy, nutritious meals. In some cases, physical or memory issues may make cooking more difficult. Or they may simply appreciate the convenience of having prepared meals delivered right to their home.

Prepared meal delivery services, such as MagicKitchen.com or Silver Cuisine, specialize in senior nutrition and cater to specific dietary needs, such as heart-healthy, diabetic-friendly, low-sodium, and more.

Several food service groups offer the option of ordering meals a la carte, mixing and matching menu options, or setting up plans that include complete meals, which can start or stop at any time.

As with meal kit delivery services, expect to pay around $9 to $13 per individual meal. But note that in some cases you may be required to order two or more servings each time, so budget accordingly.

Budget-friendly food service options for seniors

Meals On Wheels is the largest national provider of senior meal services, offering affordable options and financial assistance programs based on need. The organization is comprised of 5,000 nutrition programs across the country and even offers catered menus and diet-specific food options in some states and counties.

Generally, you must be 60 or older to be eligible for the program, but age requirements may vary by location. Those with mobility challenges may qualify for home delivery while others can get meals delivered to senior centers and cafes. You can look for available services in your area by entering your zip code in the search tool.

Many local community senior centers and churches also offer hot meals for local residents. Check with your local organizations if carryout or other options are available.

The National Care Planning Council provides more information on helpful community meal options across America. 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 affordable, nutritious meal options near you.

Angelike Gaunt
Author
Angelike Gaunt

Angelike Gaunt is a content strategist at A Place for Mom. She’s developed health content for consumers and medical professionals at major health care organizations, including Mayo Clinic, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the University of Kansas Health System. She’s passionate about developing accessible content to simplify complex health topics.

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