Guide to In Home Cooking & Meal Prep Services
In-home cooking and meal preparation services for the elderly are incredibly beneficial, and for some seniors, may determine whether or not they’re able to continue aging at home or in a facility.
As we age, decreased mobility and strength become an issue and preparing nutritious meals can grow into a burdensome task. Additionally, some seniors lack the desire to eat, and may need assistance doing so. Home caregivers can provide tasty and nutritious meals for the elderly who can no longer do so for themselves. This service gives family loved ones peace of mind, and eases seniors from the burden of having to cook.
There are many more benefits to investing in a meal preparation and/or cooking service for seniors. In this article, we will discuss meal planning, companionship and cooking preparation services for seniors. We will also offer meal resources for both seniors and caregivers.
The Importance of a Balanced Diet
Unfortunately, as we age, there are many obstacles that may arise and are completely out of our realm of control.
This includes a common obstacle – health issues. As certain health issues occur, it can be discouraging for seniors, as often these problems are unforeseeable and/or uncontrollable. That said, there are many health issues that are within a seniors control. Consuming a balanced and healthy diet is one of the easiest, and perhaps most effective, way to prevent future illnesses. Diets are completely controlled by us, so senior citizens need to choose to eat nutritious and well-rounded meals on a regular basis.
Did you know: The aging body has a difficult time absorbing the vitamins and nutrients required to remain healthy and functional.
That’s where the importance of careful meal planning, preparation and cooking come into play. By consuming a healthy diet, seniors can reduce their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, increase cognitive function, and better manage blood sugar. In turn, they will be able to live a longer and more fulfilling life, enjoying the energy to participate in their favorite activities or pass-times.
Meal Prep with Dietary Restrictions & Modifications
As with anyone, seniors can become deficient in specific nutrients and vitamins. In fact, this is a common occurrence in aging adults.
Calcium and vitamin D are both extremely important minerals for our bodies. If you, or your senior loved one, is lacking in these vitamins, it may lead to serious health complications or increase the chance of illness. Often, physicians recommend their patients eat a diet rich in specific nutrients that their bodies are lacking.
Another factor to consider, are the prescription medications a senior is taking. Believe it or not, some medications can impact one’s diet. For example, specific foods may need to be avoided, so as to not negatively interact with the effectiveness of prescription medications. It can grow increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy and regular diet, including every vitamin your body needs, when you’re told to avoid certain foods. As this becomes more difficult, many seniors resort to consuming quick, easy-to-make meals that lack the nutrients their bodies need.
In-home cooking services, as well as meal planning and preparation, assist in preventing this problem from occurring.
In-Home Meal Prep and Cooking Services for Seniors
Most in-home care agencies offer meal preparation and cooking services for their senior clients. Caregivers who provide home care to seniors will prepare healthy and nutritious meals fresh for those they care for, easing some activities of daily living for their elderly clients.
Below, we discuss some home care meal prep and cooking services offered to seniors:
When you inquire with an agency about receiving cooking and meal preparation assistance, you can expect to set up a meeting with the caregiver(s) who will be providing the senior with meal prep and cooking services. During this meeting, caregivers discuss food restrictions and special diet requirements with the senior, their nutritionist / doctor, and any family members involved in the decision.
If the senior has any conditions that require a specialized diet, caregivers will ensure all meals and food prepared for them meets those requirements. Some seniors eat a vegetarian, vegan, and/or kosher-friendly diet. Others need to have their food and fluid intake monitored, or dietary restrictions and other limitations considered when menu-planning. All these factors are discussed prior to accepting meal prep and cooking services.
Once dietary restrictions have been discussed, caregivers will develop a meal plan containing all the proper food groups necessary for the seniors diet: fruits, vegetables, additional fiber, protein sources and more. As caregivers develop a balanced diet for their elderly loved one, medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure will be considered, and meals will be planned around these medical issues.
Meal Preparation Assistance – What Do Meal Prep Services Include?
Preparing meals and cooking can become a dangerous task for seniors.
From carrying bulky grocery bags inside, to lifting heavy pots and pans and spending hours on their feet, it can be overwhelming and exhausting for seniors to do every single day. This is especially true for elderly individuals who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. It can also be difficult for those who lack confidence in cooking due to having a bad experience, such as forgetting to turn off the stove or accidentally injuring themselves in the kitchen.
Home care agencies offer a plethora of different cooking and meal prep services. Caregivers can simply provide safety supervision, companionship during meal times, or prepare meals including planning, grocery shopping and cooking. The level of assistance received depends entirely upon the seniors medical needs, dietary restrictions, and their desired level of care/support.
For some seniors, the simple service of having someone go grocery shopping for them in order to keep a fully stocked fridge is enough service to meet their needs. With grocery shopping services, seniors can be encouraged to come along for the outing and companionship, as well as to enjoy some fresh air and activity.
Some seniors would prefer to have the shopping done for them, as well as the cooking and meal prep. Having a caregiver do the grocery shopping insures that each and every meal they cook is made with fresh ingredients. There are food delivery services for seniors, which deliver frozen meals, but they simply do not compare to a fresh, home-cooked nutritious meal.
As some elderly individuals struggle with a desire to eat, caregivers can provide companionship and encourage the importance of consuming proper meals. At home meal preparation assistance is an effective way to make sure your senior loved one is eating healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day. These services also offer seniors with someone to chat with, and shows them that someone cares about them and their nutritional needs – both of which can go a long way in helping depression in seniors.
Cost of Cooking and Meal Prep Services
How much does meal preparation cost?
The cost of meal prep depends on a variety of factors. Do you need a full-service grocery shopping and cooking aid? Or, do you simply need food preparation assistance? Maybe you only want someone to go grocery shopping for you, and deliver those groceries, you’ll be doing the cooking and prep yourself. Other factors include the home care agency or service company you choose to receive service through. For those who suffer from ailments which require a specialized diet may need to hire a food nutritionist to help them with meal prep and cooking – which may affect the cost. All things considered, meal preparation and cooking services are incredibly helpful for aging seniors. Additionally, the companionship they receive from these services is just another benefit.
Financial Assistance Available to Seniors for Meals
There are many support systems available to seniors who want to remain at home instead of a care facility. This includes meal support.
Medicaid – Seniors on Medicaid can receive meals for free through them. These meals are delivered to your doorstep, and will either be frozen, shelf stable, or fresh. To see which type of meals are available to you, check with a program provider to see what they offer. Medicaid also offers meals for seniors with special dietary needs. Another service Medicaid offers is nutrition counseling. Seniors who do not have someone available to cook for them, or if the senior has a disability, they can get doorstep meal delivery services through Medicaid.
Medicare – Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover the free meal delivery service known as Meals on Wheels for seniors. That said, if you are hospitalized or admitted to a nursing facility, Medicare Part A will cover your meals while you are an inpatient. That said, Original Medicare may help receive low-cost or free meals delivered to your home based on your income and health conditions.
Medicare Advantage may cover meal delivery services, based upon your plan and whether or not you meet specific qualifications. Call your plan provider directly to see if you qualify for these meal delivery services.
Meals on Wheels – Meals on Wheels is a program through your state that provides food assistance to seniors, such as doorstep meal delivery.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – SNAP, once known as the Food Stamp program, provides benefits to qualifying households through electronic cards, allowing them to purchase nutritious food at participating stores. Low-income seniors should apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program so they can receive the help they need to purchase groceries.
Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) – SFMNP is a federally funded program, and offers benefits to low-income seniors through coupons that can be used to purchase fresh foods, such as: fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey from farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture programs, and roadside stands. This is a great program for seniors who cannot afford fresh foods.
Companionship Benefits – More Than a Meal
Benefits of consuming a home-cooked meal extend far beyond the food’s nutritional value.
Simply having someone to talk to, even if it’s only for a few hours per week, can do so much good for older adults who feel isolated. Especially since loneliness has reached epidemic proportions among the aging population, and nearly 20 percent of older Americans live alone. According to a University of California, San Francisco study, feelings of loneliness can increase an aging adult’s risk of mental and physical decline by 59 percent.
Meal Resources for Seniors and Caregivers
There are many ways that aging seniors can get help with meal preparation:
If you do some research, you’ll find that there are a lot of organizations that offer meal support for senior citizens. Meals on Wheels is a well-known organization – it provides more than 2.5 million meals to older adults per year. In order to receive services from Meals on Wheels, older adults must apply to be part of their program. The cost of the program varies based on their financial situation. Depending on the area you live in and your individual needs, pre-made meals can be delivered to your home or local senior center. Meals on Wheels offer other helpful services, such as periodic home visits and safety checks, helping homebound seniors stay socially connected and safe living in their homes.
Meal Delivery Services
Thanks to the internet, the meal delivery industry has grown and become available to nearly everyone. A plethora of food delivery companies provide their subscribers with a recipe, plus all of the ingredients required to make a healthy and nutritious meal at home. Some will even customize their ingredients to meet specific dietary needs. That said, these meal delivery services usually require the purchaser to cook the food themselves, which works for some seniors, but may not meet the needs of others.
Home Care Agencies
Home care agencies employ professional caregivers who perform a variety of housekeeping, meal preparation and other assistive tasks for aging adults who want to remain living at home, but may be having trouble with day-to-day tasks on their own.
In conclusion, it’s important to take away the fact that 1 in 4 older Americans have poor nutrition, leading to illness and losing their quality of life. Seniors require proper nutrients in order to continue living happily and increase their life longevity. Meal prep services for seniors can help them remain in their homes for longer. It also ensures they are receiving the nutrients their body needs. For seniors who struggle with cooking for themselves, in-home cooking services can make a world of difference.