Family caregivers know just how difficult it can be for some seniors to eat right.
Senior loved ones may struggle with purchasing and securing food from the grocery store due to transportation limitations, physical function impairment, and budget considerations.
Once they have food in the home, it is difficult for many to prepare substantial meals due to pain, weakness, fatigue, mobility issues, vision impairment, and lack of desire among other limitations.
All of these obstacles result in poor nutritional intake, muscle loss, and the potential for falls that could limit their ability to live independently.
It is a very slippery slope, one that family caregivers struggle to help their loved ones avoid.
Fortunately, there are some new and accessible options to get senior loved ones meals that they will find appealing and that will bolster their physical well-being and independent lifestyle.
Uber EATS Program
Most of us have heard about Uber, a ride sharing company seniors can call for a ride using an app on their smartphone or tablet. This service is available in a large number of cities, big and small, across the country and can fill a void for seniors who have difficulty securing transportation when they no longer drive themselves.
Enter Uber EATS food delivery platform. This is a program with which anyone can order food from local restaurants, which are partnering with Uber, and get home delivery on demand. The food usually arrives within 35 minutes of placing the order.
Cities across the US — and around the world — have programs already in progress which means they may be operating where your senior loved one lives or will be in the future as they expand service areas.
Using the app, your senior can view the restaurant menu and select their order. There is a delivery fee added, of course, as the Uber driver delivers your senior’s meal. Tips are not required or expected, according to Uber EATS.
In the app, your senior can include any special instructions in their order, such as any allergies, or preparation directions like dressing on the side, no sauce or gravy, etc. The order can also be tracked from preparation through pickup right up to delivery using the app.
Credits can be added to your senior’s account and the meal can be paid from the credit again using the app. Family and friends can load the account to help offset the cost for seniors or to avoid them overcharging a credit card by feeding the neighborhood!
There are hundreds of restaurants partnering with Uber EATS so that different cuisines, locales, and costs can be accommodated.
The company suggests that if it isn’t currently available in your area, checking back regularly as more and more cities and restaurants are added.
Additional Options for Meals
There are other options to get food on the table too that could help homebound seniors who need a good meal each day.
Family caregivers can initiate these solutions for their senior loved ones who may need us to do it for them.
Here are some ways family caregivers can connect seniors with nutritious meals (links to specific options are affiliate links):
- Home delivered meals through agencies such as Meals on Wheels. In some areas, there may be a waiting list for this service, so plan ahead to meet their need. The beauty of this program is that your senior will get a daily check in with the delivery person so that you can feel assured they are safe. Companionship from the person delivering the meal is also cited as a benefit for this type of program. Meals on Wheels can also bring food for pets!
- Meal kit delivery companies such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and many others. Look for simple to prepare foods that your seniors will enjoy eating and can tolerate. It won’t help if the food delivered is too trendy for their personal enjoyment or too difficult for them to prepare.
- Prepared meals ready to eat such as Silver Cuisine. This is a frozen meal delivered from a wide selection of options. They delivery breakfast, lunch, and dinner on order sent in an ice chest so that they are easy to heat and eat.
- Grocery delivery services such a PeaPod, Amazon, and other large companies that take online orders and deliver to their door. The variety of food products enable seniors to get the supplies they need including personal care or home items. Instacart is an online grocery delivery service using an Android app on your smartphone which may be convenient for caregivers to use.
- Online ordering ready for you to pick up such as Walmart. Order more than food, such as paper goods, cleaning products, or anything else Walmart sells. The delivery is free. Other large retailers will do this too so look in your area for large chains such as Safeway that will deliver.
- Set up senior center visits where they will get a nourishing meal each day in addition to all the other benefits provided by the neighborhood senior center. Many provide transportation.
- Organize friends and family to take turns preparing and then joining your senior loved one for dinner; schedule each night or at least several times a week. Perhaps this could entail taking your senior out to their favorite restaurant sometimes too.
- Call or order online from local restaurants for deliveries such as a pizza or other takeout meals that come right to their door.
More Than A Meal
It is true that being well nourished includes mental as well as physical health.
Homebound seniors need to have socialization with their hot meal to avoid isolation and depression. When family and friends include a visit to eat with them, talk, and share time together will help seniors feel loved and help with mood and a sense of belonging that will nourish them mentally in addition to the nutritious hot meal.
Many seniors become lonely when eating alone day after day, resulting in a decreased intake. They may miss children who live far away or a spouse who is no longer there, creating a feeling of loneliness that hits harder at meal times. Maybe you can set up a virtual visit via FaceTime or Skype timed during meals so that they aren’t always eating alone!
By improving senior loved ones’ socialization at the same time you improve their access to nutritious meals, you will improve their quality of life that can help them remain independent as long as possible.
Feeding people is often our way of expressing our love.
Let’s all be sure our senior’s feel the love and nourishment they need every day!