Getting Real About Meals
"You have your own family to worry about, but now there is the added responsibility of worrying about your Parent who may be living on their own."
My Support Network
There are usually two concerns that come up on the topic of meals - Safety and Logistics. Safety in the kitchen is a concern at any age and the other is the worry over are our parents eating and do they have a way of getting groceries. It is much easier on the Caregiver when our loved one is still active and in good health - able to make their own meals and able to get groceries on their own. But what happens when it just becomes too much for them? Moreover, how will you know when it does?
It is important to keep a look out for signs. Over time, you will begin to notice subtle signs that your loved one may be struggling with this task. Not only are these signs of needing more help, they may also let you know whether they are eating well enough or at all. Depending upon your observations, you may want to talk with your loved one about the concerns and with their primary healthcare provider.
Thankfully there are many solutions available now to help overcome some of these challenges - making the kitchen a safer place and improving the supply chain of food or groceries.
Lets explore more about this.
There are some simple things to watch out for:
Are there dishes in the sink or dishwasher?
Is there food in the fridge?
Are there any containers in the trash?
Are the items in the pantry being consumed?
Is the food in the fridge expired?
Have they started loosing weight?
Is their kitchen unkempt?
Working the Challenges
When your loved one still enjoys making their own meals, it will be your responsibility to make every effort to create a safer kitchen environment for them. Some of the ways to go about this would be:
Utensils with a larger grip
Appliances with timers
Removing any clutter
Having light weight pots and pans
Microwaves - Easy to use with mobility issues.
Toaster ovens - Work well for single portions and have the benefit of a timer.
Portable Induction Cooktops - Have a timer, an auto shut off feature plus It only gets hot when there is a pot or pan on it.
It is really just common sense! Trying to do what is best for your loved one does require effort, but it really boils down to just good common sense.
What if your loved one is unable to do their own cooking or no longer are able to do their own grocery shopping?
Now that the kitchen environment is much safer, lets address the other concern - Logistics. Logistics is how to go about getting the meals or groceries to them. Some of these solutions will be familiar to you but you just never thought about using them this way.
The most innovative way of doing grocery shopping these days is online. Here are some of the benefits how using them will help make your job as the Caregiver a little easier:
Its a Caregiver time saver.
It is a task that you could assign to a Home Care Aide to do with your loved one.
Picking up groceries could be an outing opportunity with your or a Home Care Aide.
It is a task your loved one could do on their own with a catalog or online if they are tech savvy.
Home Grocery Delivery or Pick Up Services
Instacart or Peapod are making getting groceries online so easy. You are able to use coupons and get discounts. Its easy to use, place place your order online, select a delivery time or pick up time.
We love InstaCart. With just one account, you can choose from all of the local Supermarkets who are participate in this service. Not only does this service help you out, it is also a way to pay it forward. You are supporting jobs in your area!
SCHWAN'S is another great option especially since ordering may be done online and through a catalog.
Home Delivery Meal Kits
Another great time saver are the pre-packed meal kits; such as Bistromd. There are others; such as: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc.
UBEREATS, GRUBHUB, and SLICE are some of the latest craze when it comes to take -out delivery services. Another Caregiver solution to help you get a hot meal.
SuperMarket Hot Bars
Another great meal solutions are from the Hot Meal Bars at local Markets and Grocery Markets.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a meal delivery service that is subsided by the government. It is a program offered by your local department of Area Agencies on Aging. The recipient pays between $7-$12 per day for 3 meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner. The price is determined on their income and requires a application. The meal is delivered once a day that includes: a breakfast item - oatmeal, cereal, coffee, a lunch item- sandwich, and a soup for dinner.
The Secret Sauce
The secret sauce is knowing how to combine some of these ingredients to create something the Caregiver will appreciate.
Knowing how to blend solutions together will help Caregivers get the job done more effectively. Here's how this works:
Put on the schedule twice a month to do grocery shopping and to prepare some home made meals.
Have your loved one participate in the grocery shopping with you, online on their own or with the help of their home care aide.
Order enough groceries to make about 5-6 meals.
Be sure to have enough containers to freeze portion size meals for your loved one to warm up later in a microwave.
Use their kitchen so that you will not have to deal with transporting and making a mess in your kitchen.
Prepare the meals together with your loved one.
For a two week period, now they will have about 5-6 home made meals and the rest of the time do Take Out or pick up meals from the Supermarket Hot Bar.
Since there is no job description for the Caregiver role, there are not any rules for it either. Caregivers need to do whatever it takes to improve a situation or to be prepared for when the situation changes.
By having these many options available to help you, all you have to do is try one of them- today. If it does not work, wake up tomorrow and try another one. Maybe the best solution is mixing and matching the solutions to come up with a plan that best fits the needs of the
Caregiver and one you are caring for.
Allow your loved one to help by doing the online grocery ordering or let them pay for it. Helps them feel like part of the household!