Nourishment. It’s something most of us take for granted, in terms of our ability to get to a grocery store or farmer’s market at leisure, as well as our ability to pay for the food that keeps our bodies fueled. Besides, with our busy lives, it’s unlikely that we’d forget to feed ourselves or our children, spouses or significant others, right? Mealtimes are worked into a part of our daily routine.
The same cannot always be said for the elderly, unfortunately. For whatever reason, be it an inability to easily shop or drive, physical difficulties that make cooking a challenge, forgetfulness, depression, loss of income, decreased hunger due to medication, illness, etc., I think we all recognize that mealtime just isn’t the same when we’re talking about cooking for a party of one. It can be downright lonely, and so mealtime often goes by the wayside. Nonetheless, food is fuel. Here are some ideas to help keep your aging mother or father fed, fueled, and hopefully in fighting form:
- Grocery delivery
Don’t even ask first. That way there will be no arguing nor any embarrassment. If you don’t live in the same city as your loved one, call a delivery service and have essentials delivered regularly. Stumped? Put in a call to the manager of the grocery store nearest your mom or dad and ask which delivery service is currently available in the area.
- Keep it easy
Remember that people who live by themselves, especially those who are slowing down, do not generally enjoy the cleanup or the trouble involved with the cooking process. Send easy-to-prepare, nutrient-dense foods in order to make sure they’ll be eaten. (Of course, adhere to any dietary restrictions.) It’s okay to send some pre-packaged foods by manufacturers you trust, in addition to an array of packaged protein drinks. However, this nifty microwave steamer makes tasty and healthy meals in just three minutes out of your favorite fresh protein and a side of vegetables, and at this price, it’s certainly worth sending one to your own parent for a test-run.
- Consider hiring a personal chef
This website could be a good place to find answers to related questions and/or begin your search. (For example, this is where I learned that a private chef usually lives in with one family and serves that family’s needs in entirety, down to grocery shopping. A personal chef works for several families or clients at once, serving different and specific needs.
- Invite Mom or Dad along for dinner, wherever that may be
Who doesn’t enjoy getting out for a good meal? Sure, it may be out of the way, but next time you and your significant other or the family are having a meal out, don’t forget to include the person who probably gets out the least these days, your parent. Better yet, schedule a standing lunch or dinner date for yourself and your Mom or Dad. If you don’t live in the same city, utilize technology and dine together from the comfort of both of your kitchen tables while breaking bread together virtually. Sure, this may take a little bit of planning and some patience on your part initially, but soon enough your aging parent will likely be looking forward to meals once again. (I’m betting you will, too.)
Do you have any other sticky situations within your sandwich generation family that I can help you with? Please contact me so I may be of assistance.
All the best,
Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.