Photo: an image of someone cooking healthy food

Aging in the Right: Place Eating Healthy

Posted on December 02, 2019 by Michael Moore Jr., Herald-Tribune Media Group

According to some estimates, there may be hundreds of thousands of older adults living in their own homes who are malnourished, which can lead to illness and other issues.

Holidays can be stressful for many, but for some older adults, holidays, or the times when family comes around, may represent the rare times they get good meals for long stretches.

Malnutrition in older adults is, unfortunately, more common than you might think. Some estimates suggest that one of every two older adults may be at risk of becoming malnourished at some point in their lives. A 2014 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests that the cost of disease-associated malnutrition in those 65 and older may be as much as $50 billion per year.

"In the past, we've looked at how our local community meal delivery services like Meals on Wheels can help older adults avoid eating tater tots for breakfast," said Venice Area Mobile Meals board member Mary Ann Dillahunty. "One client regularly did before we intervened."

But there are other services that those aging in place may find helpful, such as home grocery delivery services, meal subscription services or even personal chefs.

While a good number of those who are aging in place might not be able to afford the services of a chef, the idea might be catching on more than you expect.

Drop-in service for those at home provided by companies like Chefs for Seniors has caught on as a surprisingly popular alternative in the last few years.

While such a service generally has higher costs than something like a home delivery food service, it has advantages. According to Nathan Allman, co-founder of Chefs for Seniors, it boils down to convenience, quality, and the ability to customize your nutrition.

"Our service is very different than a lot of other meal options out there. It's a service that is provided by professional chefs who go into our clients' homes to make meals for the week," said Allman.

This service, according to Allman, involves the chefs going to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients they need before coming to the clients' home for what usually amounts to around two or so hours, where they will cook meals for the week, roughly 12 servings at a time, so that they can be packaged and stored in a freezer or refrigerator.

The meals are customizable, which makes them particularly useful for those with specific dietary needs, whether that means low sodium, a diabetic-friendly meal or something else.

"Having a professional chef make food from scratch in your kitchen using quality ingredients means our food isn't loaded with a lot of the salt or preservatives that sometimes come with delivery," said Allman.
That's the biggest benefit, according to Allman — making sure that the ingredients and the customization and the quality lead to a nutritious meal, therefore allowing you to age as healthily as possible.

Personal chefs such as those at Chefs for Seniors are almost exclusively private pay, which means they're certainly not for everyone. But cost, Allman said, is usually comparable to many home delivery services and is often cheaper than eating out.

If you can afford to have someone come into your home and cook you nutritious meals, ensuring that you are eating happily and healthily, then looking into a chef or similar cooking services is an alternative worth considering.

This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire, and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.

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