The Dangers That Come With Seniors Eating Alone
There are many seniors who end up eating their meals alone—however, while this is common, it can be quite dangerous as well. There are millions of seniors who eat their meals alone, but friends, loved ones and caregivers looking after these seniors need to be aware of the dangers that can come with solitary eating.
Here are some of the dangers that can come with eating alone:
This is one of the first ways that people tend to notice there is an issue with seniors and their eating habits. There are many seniors who just won’t eat if there is no one there to eat with. They may forget to eat, not feel up to cooking for one or may not be eating a healthy and balanced meal.
Eating Alone and Malnutrition
Seniors who eat alone are much more likely to become malnourished. Seniors are actually much more likely to become malnourished than younger adults. Malnutrition can increase the risk of infection or illness, or can cause confusion in seniors.
Malnutrition can also lead to depression.
The Physical Challenges of Eating
What many people don’t realize is that sometimes eating can be a physical challenge for seniors. Make sure to ask seniors if they are having physical challenges or if they are having difficulty with chewing or swallowing. If something like this is going on—the senior may need to go to the doctor.
Seniors May Be Eating Unhealthy Food
One of the dangers of seniors eating alone is that they may not stay on top of what they are eating. If you have a loved one in your life with the early signs of dementia or memory loss, they may accidentally be eating foods that are expired, rotting or unhealthy.
If you are helping a senior loved one out, you should check their refrigerator to make sure food hasn’t gone past the expiration date. This is one of the many dangers of seniors eating, cooking and grocery shopping alone.
Social Implications of Eating Alone
Eating is not only important nutritionally, but it is important to remember that eating is a social act as well. Seniors who are eating alone may be dealing with depression or isolation. Eating with someone can be fun, encouraging and help seniors stay mentally and socially engaged.
How to Encourage Seniors to Eat
There are many ways you can encourage seniors to eat. One of the best, of course, is to go over and eat with your loved one in their home. Here are a few other tips:
- Plan an outing such as a picnic that makes eating fun.
- Have pre-made meals ready for your senior in the fridge so they are at least eating healthy.
- Have your loved one join a mall-walker or social club that also includes breakfast after the outing.
- Sign your loved one up for programs like Meals on Wheels
If you have a senior loved one in your life who eats most of their meals alone—do your best to step in and help. Coordinating times to come over and join these individuals for a meal during the week, won’t just give your loved one some much-needed social interaction—but it can help them in many other ways as well.