In-Home Care Strategies: Post 2 of 3

A shopping cart and food in a grocery store aisle

In this second post, let’s talk about food and nutrition when the elderly are living at home. I think it’s a perennial concern. Your elderly parent may no longer drive. Even if they can drive to the grocery store, do they have the energy to buy and prepare healthful meals. My situation was a bit more complex, since once my Dad his stroke, neither of my parents drove. I tried various solutions to the food issue. I’m not sure there are any ideal ones. In some cases, a blend of options may be the best one.

Grocery Home Delivery Services

These work as intended, but they do require computer skills and an Internet connection. My Mom never learned to use a computer, so I had to place all the orders. Delivery times tend to fill up quickly, so you must plan ahead. Some services allow customers to pick up their orders from the store, rather than having them delivered. I did this a few times — ordering my parents’ groceries online and then picking them up myself. Grocery delivery services aren’t great for unexpected, “one-off” needs – if you run out of milk, a grocery delivery service isn’t going to help. When my parents lived at home, Amazon Pantry hadn’t been launched yet. In today’s world, I could see Amazon Pantry being a good way to get non-perishable items delivered to the home.

Home Health Aides

For my parents, this turned out to be the best alternative. I created a generic grocery list on my computer with the items that my parents used most often and I printed out a bunch. My Mom could then check off items that she wanted and write in additional items. I also bought a pre-paid gift card from the grocery store for the aides to use. This limited the likelihood of fraudulent purchases and also limited the potential loss if the card was misused. I could check the card’s balance and periodically top it up online.

Meals on Wheels

We never tried this service, although our town offered it. Meals on Wheels may not be appropriate for individuals with dietary restrictions. My Dad, for example, required a gluten free diet due to celiac disease. Meals on Wheels also provides just one meal per day and it may not be available seven days per week.

Meal Preparation Services/Private Chef

Again, we never tried this type of service either. It’s clearly an expensive option, but some private chefs will prepare meals for clients that can be frozen. These meals are likely to be made from healthful ingredients without preservatives. Family prepared meals are, of course, a great option. Each week, I tried to make a dinner to bring to my parents which had enough food to cover a couple of meals. However, this is yet another thing for caregivers to do, in addition to their own jobs and family responsibilities.

Finding the right solution for your parent’s situation may require some trial and error. In the third and final post in this series, I’ll touch on doctor’s visits and medication management when your elderly parent is living at home.

Photo Source: Unsplash