Eating a well-balanced diet is important at any age, and that’s especially true for a number of people including seniors and individuals with special needs. Meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking can be challenging for people with chronic conditions or other disabilities, and meal preparation services can give them the tools they need in order to live a more independent lifestyle.
At PASCO, we believe that everyone deserves to live independently. Our mission is to train and support Family Caregivers to assist their loved ones so they can live happy, vibrant lives. Let’s look at what meal preparation entails, and how it can help your loved one to be as healthy and independent as possible.
What is considered meal preparation?
It takes a lot of work to get food from the store to the table, and some people may need a little extra help. Meal preparation is our way of assisting our loved ones so they don’t have to do all the work. Meal preparation is more than just cooking dinner. It covers a variety of tasks that span from planning meals to eating alongside your loved one. Some of these tasks include:
- Creating healthy meal plans
- Grocery shopping for ingredients
- Picking up online grocery orders
- Cooking and serving meals
- Preparing meals that can be reheated later
- Preparing healthy snacks to grab and eat
- Providing feeding assistance if necessary
- Observing your loved one as they eat to ensure that they’re safely chewing and swallowing
- Washing dishes
- Keeping the kitchen clean
- Providing companionship
A caregiver will cook and serve meals to their loved one, but they’ll also prepare additional healthy meals and snacks in advance. That way, their loved one can grab ready-to-eat meals from the fridge so they can reheat and eat a meal whenever they’re hungry.
Why is meal preparation helpful?
Meal preparation takes both cognitive and physical effort, and for some people with limitations, it can be overwhelmingly difficult — not to mention, dangerous. Planning a healthy meal schedule is a big task, and cooking in the kitchen requires you to stand for long periods of time, chop vegetables and use both gross and fine motor skills to operate a hot oven or stove. For people with special needs, it can be tremendously helpful for a caregiver to prepare their meals.
Prepping your loved one’s meals ensures that they’ll have access to healthy food that’s aligned with their specific dietary needs. A person’s diet may not seem as important as the prescription medications they’re taking, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, a healthy diet may actually help your loved one to become stronger, healthier, and happier. For example, people who have diabetes and eat a healthy diet can actually reverse the effects of the disease. According to experts, a whole-food plant-based diet can cause a person with type 2 diabetes to become significantly healthier, to the point where they may not even need to manage their condition with medication any longer.
As a Family Caregiver, you’ll be able to prepare ready-to-eat individualized meals for your loved one so you know they’re eating nutritious food that will help them stay healthy. Some people also have specific dietary needs that must be met in order for them to eat safely. Elderly people and those with disabilities to cause them to have difficulty swallowing may require especially soft foods so they don’t choke.
Who needs meal preparation services in home?
There are many people who could benefit from having meal preparation services in their homes. This includes:
Seniors can especially benefit from meal preparation services. This is due, in part to the aging process, where a person is more likely to develop conditions that require special dietary restrictions. Some of these include low-sodium, low-sugar and diabetic-safe ingredients. Additionally, elderly people commonly lose interest in eating food since our sense of smell and taste diminish as we age. This can lead to weakness, malnutrition, and other issues. A caregiver who provides meal preparation can ensure that their loved one is eating enough and that they’re eating a well-balanced diet.
Short-term meal preparation services are a great option for instances when a loved one is recovering from surgery and can’t cook for themselves. A caregiver can help meal plan, shop and prepare dishes that the recovering person can reheat when they’re hungry. Long-term meal preparation provides immense help to families who have children with disabilities or for adults with disabilities who would like to live as independently as possible.
What issues can pop up without meal preparation services?
Individuals who cannot meal plan, shop and prepare their food properly are at risk of getting injured and developing poor health. The kitchen can be a dangerous place, where it’s easy to cut yourself with a sharp knife or burn yourself with a hot dish. If your loved one is a senior or has a disability, it may be safest to provide meal preparation services.
Many people who live alone look forward to visiting with their caretaker while they’re preparing a meal. Meal time is a social event, and prepping and eating alone can be terribly lonely. Aside from nutrition and safety, meal preparation services can provide companionship for people who would otherwise be very isolated.
How PASCO can help with meal prep services
At PASCO, we believe in supporting clients so they can live full, independent lives. With services like meal preparation, medication management and light housekeeping, seniors and people with disabilities can live in their homes while receiving the assistance they need. Our mission is to train family members to be Family Caregivers since they know their loved ones best. Our Family Caregiver Program provides four different ways to provide care for your loved one, so you can help them live independently. If you’d like to learn more about meal preparation services or you’d like to become a Family Caregiver , contact us today.