How Meal Preparation Services Keep Seniors Safe at Home

By Michelle Cemental

For seniors, mealtime should be a positive, enjoyable, and safe experience. Unfortunately, seemingly simple tasks like grocery shopping and cooking can create unsafe conditions for your loved one. From fire or fall-related injury, to the dangers of food-borne illness, to the difficulty of maintaining a healthy diet—meal preparation for seniors comes with some serious risks. 

Fortunately, meal preparation services can be an incredible resource for seniors, setting them up with meals that are safely prepared, nutritionally balanced, and customized for their needs. From grocery shopping, to meal-planning, to cooking, to clean-up, specialized caregivers can make a world of difference. Let's take a closer look at how meal preparation services can help keep your loved one safe at home.

1. Provide Healthy, Delicious & Nutritious Meals

Unfortunately, seniors are not always able to prioritize healthy, balanced, and nutritious meals at home, which means mealtimes may cease to be an enjoyable aspect of their day-to-day lives. For one, taste buds and sense of smell decrease with age, so seniors may find it more difficult to sustain interest in mealtimes. Additionally, certain medications can drastically change appetite. And finally, it's simply easier to create a fast microwaved meal than to cook a healthy, nutritious, and balanced meal.

With help from caregivers who prepare food, your loved one can receive wholesome and balanced meals based on healthy foods they actually enjoy. At the end of the day, it's not only important that your loved one eats nutritious meals but that these meals are created to provide a delicious and pleasant eating experience. 

2. Avoid Fire Risks in the Kitchen

Though many of us don't consider the risks of cooking as we go about our day to day lives, cooking is actually a significant contributor to fire and injury in the United States:

  • 48% of home fires are started by cooking equipment, making cooking the leading cause of fires and fire-related injuries in the home.
  • In 1/3 of these fires, the issue starts when equipment is left unattended.
  • 2/3 of cooking-related fires involve oven ranges and cook tops.

Unfortunately, these statistics are even more alarming for seniors. In fact, cooking is the leading source of fire-related injuries for seniors. Though seniors can decrease risks of fires by remaining vigilant, never leaving cooking equipment unattended, and avoiding loose sleeves while cooking, having meals prepared in the home by a service is an excellent way to decrease the risk of fire injury from cooking.

3. Mitigate Fall Risks in the Kitchen

Though significant, fire doesn't present the only risk of serious injury in the kitchen. For example, kitchen floors quickly become slick when wet, making any spills that occur a danger. Shattered dishes and glasses can present an additional hazard.

If your loved one is having difficulty navigating the kitchen safely, it may be time to consider a meal preparation service. Not only can a caregiver help prepare food, but they can do dishes and keep the kitchen clean and sanitized so that your loved one doesn't have to take any unnecessary risks. 

4. Eliminate the Hassle of Grocery Trips

Though it is important that your loved one maintain their independence, grocery shopping trips can create an additional hazard for seniors. Arranging for transportation to and from the grocery store can present a unique challenge and hassle. In inclement weather, even a simple trip to the grocery store can create unsafe conditions. 

In addition, seniors are at a greater risk of falls and injury both while traveling to the store and at the store itself. A meal preparation service eliminates the hassle and potential danger of grocery store trips by taking on shopping duties. Working together with your loved one, they can create a grocery list, shop for food, and safely put food away in the kitchen.

5. Create Positive Interactions with Others

According to recent research, 1/3 of seniors report feeling lonely. Loneliness impacts quality of life in various ways, contributing to mental health issues and decreased physical well-being. In fact, extreme feelings of loneliness are known to shorten life expectancy to the same degree as smoking cigarettes or being overweight. 

Having a caregiver provide home-cooked meals for your loved one doesn't just provide a nutritious meal. It also provides company to a senior who may be feeling lonely or out of touch. A simple conversation and a friendly interaction can work wonders in a person's mood and provide a highlight during the day.

6. Avoid Food-Borne Illness

In the United States, food safety is a serious issue. Out of the 48 million people in America who get sick from food-borne illnesses, 3,000 will die. This number is especially troubling for seniors since they are more vulnerable to food-related sicknesses than others. There are a few reasons for this:

  • The immune system naturally gets weaker with age.
  • Side effects from certain medications — for diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc. — can weaken a senior's immune system.
  • When seniors become sick from food, it takes their bodies longer to get rid of dangerous pathogens.

One of the best ways to avoid common pathogens — like listeria, clostridium, e.coli, and norovirus — is to have food carefully and safely prepared. This means cooking food properly at the right temperatures, washing fruit and vegetables thoroughly, and ensuring that all components of the meal are made with food that's within its "best by" date.

By taking these measures, meal preparation services help your senior avoid unnecessary exposure to foods that can cause illness. In addition, a caregiver preparing the meals can also clean and sanitize your loved one's kitchen to avoid dangerous cross contamination.

7. Accommodate Specialized Meal Plans

Many seniors have specialized diets and unique nutritional needs, which require extra diligence. Depending on your loved ones' needs, they may need to focus on some of the following in their meal planning:

  • Mediterranean diet. This specialized diet plan, which prioritizes eating lots of vegetables, healthy grains, and fish, is often recommended for senior citizens to help keep their hearts healthy.
  • Diet for high cholesterol. Seniors with high cholesterol may have been instructed by their doctors to adhere to a diet that has healthy fats, such as the DASH diet. 
  • Limited diets. Depending on medical conditions, seniors might be instructed to adhere to a low-salt diet or change their eating habits to adjust to their diabetes diagnosis.
  • Additional needs. Compared to other age groups, seniors have a greater need to ensure that they're receiving certain nutrients in the right quantities, such as calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and potassium.

It can be difficult for seniors to plan for and accommodate all the specialized dietary needs that may be a part of their life. Experienced caregivers can make all the difference by grocery shopping and helping to plan and prepare meals. This way, you can rest assured that your loved ones' major meals are created with all their special dietary needs in mind. 

At Caring Senior Service, we offer compassionate care to seniors to help them experience the highest quality of life. Our meal preparation services can help seniors with the basics — shopping for groceries, preparing wholesome meals, and helping out around the house. If you're interested in learning more about how our meal preparation services can help keep seniors safe at home, please contact a Caring team near you today.

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Tags: Senior Health, Home Care