Sunday supper with seniors helps ease depression, nutrition

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To ease nutrition and depression issues in seniors, a new campaign asks families to dine with elderly loved ones at least once a week. (KABC)

A new campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of sharing meals with seniors to keep them engaged with the community.

A UC San Francisco study found that 18 percent of seniors live alone, yet 43 percent of all seniors feel lonely even if they live with their spouse. Having something like a meal or a snack can help bring them to the outside world.

Almie Whitlow takes special efforts to make sure her 92-year-old mother Alma Whitlow remains an important part of the family.

"I feel really strongly about just getting her engaged. So it's not just the meal," said Almie Whitlow, who also takes her mother to the farmers market.

Brittany Whitlow, Almie's daughter, and a caretaker are in the mix too.

"I lived in Japan for a couple years, so it's a culture where the elderly are much more respected," Brittany Whitlow said.

"It's important to feel part of a community. You don't want to be ignored. Everybody has something to say. She's a teacher for 40 years and everyday she's teaching us. There's not a day without a lesson," said Kathy Woodward, Home Instead care provider.

Dianne Greene, owner of Home Instead Senior Care, says 73 percent acknowledge they eat with a senior loved one only for special events and holidays. Yet even eating together once a week helps cognition, community involvement and better nutrition.

"It could be a lunch. It could be a dinner. It's just basically sitting down with a senior loved one for at least once a week for a good meal," Greene said.

"Many seniors end up turning to tea and toast and they watch a lot of TV," Greene added.

Green's company recently initiated a Sunday dinner pledge campaign, donating $1 to Meals on Wheels for every person's pledge made to have one meal a week with a senior.

If your loved ones don't live nearby, try volunteering at a senior care home or facility. It's a gesture that will benefit everyone.
Related Topics:
foodfoodfood coachhealthseniorsdepressionnutritionfamily
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