The link between food and love is especially strong in those from an older generation. But when a loved one is far away, sharing a meal can be difficult. Many caregivers worry about the quality of meals a loved one may be preparing on their own—or the safety of an older adult who may forget to turn the stove off. Dietary restrictions create an added issue and can be burdensome (and unpleasant!) for both seniors and their caregivers.
Luckily, caregivers have options that can make mealtime a better experience for all—even from a distance.
Common diet problems
Many older adults struggle with dietary restrictions. Those with hypertension or heart failure usually need to stick to a low-sodium diet, while individuals with diabetes look to a low-carb or diabetic diet to better control blood sugar levels. And if your older adult is living with kidney disease, you know the challenges that come from limiting fruits and vegetables that contain too much potassium or phosphorus.
Yet, even seniors who are generally healthy should consider making some changes to their daily diet. In fact, a recent study published last fall in the journal Nutrients highlights what’s at stake for older adults:
“Malnutrition in older adults has been recognized as a challenging health concern associated with not only increased mortality and morbidity, but also with physical decline, which has wide-ranging acute implications for activities of daily living and quality of life in general,” the study’s authors wrote. “Malnutrition is common and may also contribute to the development of the geriatric syndromes in older adults.”
While we know nutrition plays a big factor in helping your senior live a long, healthy life, we also know it can be a struggle to make the healthiest foods cravable. And whether your loved one needs to follow a specific, medically required diet or just wants to keep their weight in check, buying and preparing healthy food can require a lot of time, energy and effort. Adhering to strict diets can be complicated and burdensome for both the senior and the caregiver, and changing dietary restrictions can even require learning a new way of cooking to make tasty meals.
Options for distant loved ones
When your loved one lives far away, it’s hard to determine whether they’re meeting their nutritional needs. And if your loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia, making sure they have enough good food to eat can be especially worrisome. Providing healthy, nutritious meals that can be stored in the freezer and easily reheated in the oven or microwave is a great way to ensure your loved one has enough food on hand, and can also be helpful in portion control for weight management. Because distant loved ones can’t accompany you to the grocery store, a meal kit company can be the next best thing.
While the fad of meal kit companies seems to frequently come and go, Magic Kitchen – founded in 2005 – has been serving as a prepared meal delivery service that caters to seniors and individuals with specific dietary needs. Chef-prepared meals arrive fully cooked and frozen, and are simple to reheat. Meals include an entrée and two sides but can also be ordered à la carte, and all items on the menu include detailed information on nutritional content, ingredients and heating instructions.
“As many seniors have special dietary needs, a large part of MagicKitchen.com chefs’ energies has gone into creating complete meals that can be included as part of a healthy diet, and are also special-diet-friendly,” the company writes on its website. “Having a registered dietitian on board has been invaluable to us, and her expertise is available to our customers.”
Accommodating special diets of seniors
Magic Kitchen sets itself apart from other meal delivery services by offering meals specialized for a wide set of dietary restrictions or health conditions. The service offers meal plans customized for a wide range of health conditions that require special meal considerations, including:
- Renal diet
- And more
The company also offers meals nutritionally balanced for seniors who want to eat healthy but don’t have specific dietary restrictions. Options vary from sauerkraut pierogies and seafood paella to chicken pot pie, so you’re likely to find something to satisfy even the pickiest eater.
How do I order?
Ordering prepared meals can be a collaboration between caregivers and loved ones. Meals are listed by diet restrictions and offer pictures and descriptions, so your loved one can give you an idea of tastes and preferences of the meals that appeal to them.
And because meals come frozen, it’s possible to order as many or as few as needed. Items can also be ordered à la carte to ensure your senior is receiving enough of their favorite items.
Learn more at MagicKitchen.com.