March 27, 2016

Are your parents finding their dinner time boring ?

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Indian family model is changing

The concept of a joint family system is giving way at a fast rate in India, as grown-up children of seniors move to another city or country for work or study. A study shows almost 15 million Indians aged above 60 live alone or with spouse only. In states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu alone, a quarter of the elderly population live in such all-elderly households.

Eating alone has become a way of life for many of our seniors

Often families came together for dinner shared their day, insights, laughter and love but the table got smaller and soon, mealtime is more of a chore than a pleasure for seniors living alone.

Eating alone is increasingly common for all age groups, but may be of particular concern for seniors. Cooking for one person means they have to scale down recipes, and it’s also not as much fun. Instead of stimulating dinner conversation, the television becomes the other person at the table.

Hidden dangers of eating alone

Essentially, what happens is that as seniors age beyond 60 their gastrointestinal tract changes and tend to have problem with digesting food. This compounded with loneliness makes them to wind up their dinner with bread and milk. Who wants to cook a roasted chicken and vegetables and sit down and eat it alone ?.

A study found that just 26% of the widowed elderly felt eating enjoyable. A full 50% of widowed people said they ate simply out of habit or to keep from starving. This is particularly of more of a concern with women as they don’t see the value in taking care of themselves.

Eating improperly leads to a weakened immune system, loss of muscle and bone health, and loss of weight. And all of these factors can contribute to other issues like risk of falling and breaking bones. Plus, poor nutrition can lead to depression.

Are your parents finding their meal time boring ?

Here are 10 tips you could use to make sure your parents eat healthy and most importantly not skip meals.


Hire a cook

If finances are not a issue you could hire a cook from the neighborhood where your parents live or from one of the many online services available now in India.
Hiring a cook will be especially helpful for seniors who are unable or unwilling to shop for, and cook their meals regularly or for those who want companionship at mealtime.
They will be of great help in keeping the refrigerator clean and free from expired stuff.
Skype dinner

You could Skype with your parents at their dinner time. It will give them a sense of togetherness making dinner time more interesting for your family as a whole.

Encourage your parents to find friends to dine

Studies show that when you eat with others, you tend to have an improved nutrient intake.
Encourage your parents to dine more often with neighbors and friends. Occasionally, they could make it more interesting by cooking together.
The fact is eating with company will take some strategizing, but the effort will pay off.
Make kitchen comfortable and interesting

If your parent has a problems with standing for the length of time to cook a meal, you could make their kitchen more comfortable by providing a seating arrangement in kitchen. Add a place for magazines and music to make kitchen a interesting place to be. 
For more on senior friendly homes click here.
Switch to a bottom freezer 

Bottom-mounted models are often a good choice for senior citizens with health issues that make bending and stooping uncomfortable.
In a regular refrigerator leftovers are often shoved into the back making it difficult for your loved one to see it, reach it, or remember it’s there, food may end up as waste (or, worse they may consume spoilt food).
With bottom freezers vegetable crispers are usually in plain sight, which means your parents are less likely to forget about their healthy food.

Subscribe to a cooking magazine

Cooking up that classic meal is great but the same old stuff gets boring. These magazines come with loads of new recipes, tips etc. which would keep your parents interested in cooking and try something new once a while.
Cooking APPS

If your parents are technology friendly you could suggest a cooking APP for them.
Cooking APPS generally come with thousands of recipes and include in-depth instructions, pictures, videos and other features to help your parents get the best of their kitchen.
Food delivery services

Many food delivery services like Swiggy, Zomato, Food panda have come up in India with their APPS. They deliver piping hot food from the neighboring restaurants (big and small) and have some great features like no minimum order, cash on delivery and zero delivery charges. 
Your parents can now order food from their favorite restaurant food using their APP.
Surprise your parents with fruits and flowers

Many online services in India enable you to deliver fruit baskets for your parents. Your parents will always have something healthy to eat even on a day when it is tiresome to cook.
Senior friendly vegetable garden

With gardening people remain connected with nature. You could help your parents set up a vegetable garden in their balcony, backyard or terrace.
Tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, herbs etc can be grown even in small containers. A vegetable garden at home can provide much needed fun for your parents to cook.

For more on senior friendly gardens click here.



Many of the seniors living alone end up not eating balanced meals. They tend to fix things that are easy and quick but that don’t provide the right nutrition or worse skip meals because it’s easy to do so when it’s just you. While frozen and prepared foods are convenient and easy, they contain tons of sodium, fat, and other ingredients that aren’t healthy, especially for people who are on diabetic or other special diets.

Are your parents finding their dinner time boring ? Would you be interested to try any of the tips this article suggests? is tips and sharing oriented.

Please use our Forum/Facebook page to share your concerns, experiences and tips regarding elderly parents that can help others.



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Krishna is the originator and the primary contributor of this website. Engineer by profession and a avid reader. The mission of the website is to understand issues and find solutions which 60 plus parents may be facing as they enter the phase of emptynest.

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