Healthy Meal Service Options For Seniors Who Don’t Cook
I would like to find some easy and healthy meal service options for my elderly parents who have a hard time getting around. My mom just had her hip replaced which is keeping her from cooking, and dad is a disaster in the kitchen. What can you tell us?
Hungry and Helpless
Depending on where your parents live, there are various meal service options for homebound seniors who can’t, or don’t cook anymore. Here are several to check into.
Community Meal Programs
A good starting point is to find out if there’s a home-delivery meal program in your parent’s area. Meals-On-Wheels is the largest program that most people are familiar with, but many communities offer senior meal delivery programs sponsored by other organizations that go by different names. Be sure to check into all possibilities. The Area Agency on Aging, 1-800-677-1116 or www.eldercare.gov, can tell you what’s available near your parents or you can go to www.mealcall.org and do a search.
Most home -delivered meal programs across the U.S. deliver hot meals, daily or several times a week, usually around the lunch hour, to seniors over age 60 who have problems preparing meals for themselves, as well as those with disabilities. Weekend meals, usually frozen, may also be available, along with special diets such as diabetic, low-sodium, Kosher, etc. Most of these programs typically charge a small fee, usually between $2 and $6, or request a donation, while some may be free to low-income seniors.
In addition to home-delivered meals, you should also look into congregate meal programs. Many communities offer free or low-cost hot meals in a group setting that is often located in senior centers, schools, churches and housing projects for older adults. Some facilities even offer transportation to the sites.
Another popular option for seniors with bigger budgets and who don’t cook is to hire a personal chef from time to time. A personal chef can provide them with a do-it-all service that helps plan meals according to their tastes and needs, do the grocery shopping and the preparation of tasty meals in their home, which they can freeze and eat when they please. Or, they can prepare it in their own kitchen and deliver it. Chef’s fees range between $200 and $300 plus groceries. To find a personal chef visit the American Personal & Private Chef Association Web site at www.personalchef.com and search by state, or call 1-800-644-8389.
If that seems too pricey, a less expensive way is to hire an occasional homemaker or homehelper who will grocery shop to cook. This type of service typically costs around $10 to $15 an hour. The area aging agency, local churches, friends, newspaper ads or even www.craigslist.org are all good sources to help you find someone, or look in the Yellow Pages under “Home Care Services”.
Another convenient option is to purchase your parents prepared frozen meals online, and have them delivered to their house. While there are lots of companies that sell frozen meals, Magic Kitchen, www.magickitchen.com, 1-877-516- 2442, is a top option that caters to the dietary needs of seniors. They offer a wide variety of delicious and nutritious meals, with prices ranging between $8 and $12 per meal. Schwan’s, www.schwans.com, 1-888-724-9267, DineWise, www.dinewise.com, 1-800-749-1170 and FamilyChef, wwwfamilychef.com, 1-888-612- 9264 also offer tasty home meal delivery service as well.
A less expensive alternative is to go to your local grocery store and pick up some Healthy Choice, www.healthychoice.com, Kashi, www.kashi.com, or Lean Cuisine, www.leancuisine.com, frozen dinners or lowsodium canned soups.
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