There are many companies today offering meal delivery services. From the restaurant down the block to grocery delivery to prepackaged meal plan options, these services are popular in many households.
But for seniors, meal delivery might not always be the right choice. With specific health and safety needs, seniors can benefit from a more involved approach to meal assistance. At Caring Senior Service, we offer meal preparation services instead. Read on to see why that might be a better option for seniors and what it entails.
What Is Meal Preparation?
In general, meal preparation services involve having a caregiver come to a client's home to prepare and cook food in the home. Caregivers can work with clients to create an appropriate meal plan, considering all dietary restrictions, and can take care of tasks like grocery shopping and cleaning as part of the service. Often, seniors can choose how involved they want to be in the planning, preparation, and cooking process.
In contrast, a meal delivery service drops off either fully prepared meals or prepared ingredients needed to create a meal. These services sometimes offer some customization and consideration of dietary restrictions, but they generally provide pre-selected meals.
Our Meal Preparation Services
Taking each client's needs into consideration, our meal prep service includes:
- Creating meal plans: Working with seniors, we can create meal plans that they will actually want to eat while making sure their meals are appropriate for their dietary needs.
- Going grocery shopping: We can take care of the work of walking through grocery stores and handling potentially heavy items.
- Preparing food for cooking: We can prepare food to cook immediately, or get ingredients ready for later. We can also prepare healthy snack items for seniors in advance. For example: cutting vegetables and fruit or creating portioned containers of crackers and cheese.
- Cooking or reheating meals: Cooking can be dangerous for seniors, so we take care of it as part of our meal preparation service. Of course, whenever seniors want to be involved in cooking their own meals, we work alongside them in the kitchen.
- Doing the dishes: Washing dishes or loading a dishwasher can be taxing for seniors and invites the risk of breaking glass or ceramic items. We take care of this after preparing and cooking meals.
- Cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen: To protect seniors against food-borne illnesses, we carefully clean and disinfect their kitchen so it's ready for the next meal.
Benefits of Meal Prep Over Meal Delivery
A major benefit of meal preparation services is safety. These services help seniors avoid having to travel to the grocery store and lug heavy bags home. They don't have to handle sharp knives or worry about burning themselves, and they won't risk starting a fire by leaving a burner on.
Reaching for high shelves in the kitchen can lead to a fall. Even reheating food in a microwave poses risks, as microwaved food can easily become too hot. If a senior chooses a meal delivery service, they might get healthy meals but no one's coming into their home to make sure they stay safe when heating or preparing those meals.
Food-borne illness can be serious for many seniors, and can result from inadequate cleaning, cross-contamination, or incorrectly storing perishable food. By thoroughly cleaning clients' kitchens after meals, and making sure ingredients are safely stored, we help prevent the spread of bacteria and food-borne diseases.
Another important benefit is making sure that seniors' dietary needs are met. When seniors can be involved in meal planning with their caregiver, they are more likely to enjoy and eat their meals. By balancing dietary requirements with personal preferences, caregivers can ensure that seniors are really getting the nutrition they need. The right diet can prevent health issues and even improve mental health. Meal planning services can also help seniors prevent dehydration by including healthy drinks and smoothies in a meal plan.
In general, a varied diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats will provide the most benefits. Some foods, like blueberries, have even been shown to prevent cognitive decline. Meal plans also need to take dietary restrictions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, into account and ensure that the selected ingredients don't interfere with any medications.
The social and emotional aspects of food need to be considered, too. Foods evoke memories and emotions, and eating is often a communal activity. Cooking and eating alone can be isolating for seniors. With a meal delivery service, seniors get fed but no social element is involved. By having a caregiver come and prepare meals in their home, seniors can retain some of the socialization that is a big part of mealtime. And by having a hand in choosing their meal plans, they can make sure their meals include some of their favorite foods, which are more likely to be emotionally satisfying than those chosen by a meal delivery service.
Cooking is also frequently a source of pride and satisfaction. Working with a caregiver to plan their meals and participating in some of the cooking can help seniors retain a sense of agency in their life.
Is Meal Preparation Right for Your Loved One?
If you have a senior loved one who needs help planning and preparing meals but wants more than just a delivery service, talk to them about choosing meal preparation services. Emphasize the benefits — flexibility, safety, nutrition, and companionship. They can choose the foods they love, maintain a healthy diet, and participate in cooking with their caregiver when they want to.
Because our services all come at a flat hourly rate, it's easy to add meal prep services to your loved one's existing services. Rates are constant on nights, weekends, and holidays, so your loved one can get the meal prep services they need at any time.
Let Caring Senior Service help with meal preparation for your senior loved one. Our dedicated caregivers will work to create a meal plan that helps them stay healthy and happy while enjoying food prepared in their own home. Contact a team near you to learn more.