Q. I’m a long distance caregiver for my grandmother. She lives alone and is able to take care of herself pretty well. My main concern is her nutrition. Last time I came down to visit it seemed like the only thing she had been eating were prepared pre-packaged frozen meals. Do you have any advice on how I can monitor her eating habits and make sure she is getting proper nutrition?
A: Proper nutrition can be difficult for everyone but it is especially challenging for a senior who is living alone. Many seniors rely on pre-packaged, highly processed foods but oftentimes these foods to not comprehensively meet their nutritional needs. The two major pitfalls when it comes to seniors and nutrition are loneliness and transportation.
Loneliness-40% of Adults over the age of 75 live alone, resulting in many seniors feeling lonely. These feelings of loneliness are often exaggerated around meal times. Loneliness causes reduced appetites and as a result, many seniors skip meals; choosing only to snack or eat frozen pre-packaged meals. Without eating properly many seniors experience large nutritional gaps that can create or exaggerate health issues.
Transportation- Many seniors are afraid to drive and even worse, they’re afraid to share that fear with others. The instinct to hide a fear of driving is usually because seniors fear losing their independence. Paralyzed by their fright, these seniors are prisoners in their own homes which prevents them from making regular visits to the grocery store for fresh ingredients. If you suspect that your grandmother may fear driving just ask. Opening the door for an honest conversation will allow her to know that you care about learning her fears and limitations in order to get her the help she needs to remain independent. Be sure to ask your grandmother how she would like these fears addressed so that she knows you will help her work towards a solution she is comfortable with rather than making the decision for her.
One way to overcome both of these pitfalls is to enlist assistance from a Home Health Agency. People usually don’t consider outside help for their loved ones who are able to perform personal care tasks on their own. However, one of the key services provided by private duty home care agencies is companionship. Through companion services your grandmother is guaranteed socialization from a caring aide, freshly prepared nutritionally dense meals and transportation to the grocery store and other appointments. Utilizing the services of a home health agency will help ensure your grandmother’s safety and that she receives just the help she needs.
For more tips on forming healthy eating habits click here.