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Meal Delivery Tips for Older Adults: Where to Start

Planning meals, gathering the ingredients, and preparing them can become increasingly difficult as we age. Our physical and mental abilities may decline to the point that cooking can pose risks we previously didn't have to worry about. Meal delivery services are a safer alternative for seniors. The meals can come with the ingredients and simple instructions for an easy cooking experience, or they may come already prepared. Meal delivery services are a way for seniors to get fresh, nutritious meals without the hassle of a lengthy preparation process.

Benefits of meal delivery services for seniors

Meal delivery services come with benefits such as:

  • Reduced time spent on grocery shopping and cooking. Driving to and from the grocery store, searching for ingredients, unloading groceries at home, and preparing a meal can take a significant amount of time for an elderly individual. Meal delivery services eliminate the time-consuming steps to having a nutritious meal.
  • Greater variety and access to healthy meal options. Some services have menus that provide over 100 options. These meals are constructed using fresh, high-quality ingredients and provide a custom balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Portion control and dietary considerations. Meals from these delivery services can be customized to meet the individual's dietary goals or needs.
  • Convenience and potential for improved nutrition for seniors living alone. This is a viable alternative to fast food, which has a reputation for being a contributing factor to chronic health issues. Providing freshly prepared meals delivered directly to seniors' homes, this service ensures both ease and nutritional value, promoting overall well-being.

How meal delivery services work

Ordering from a meal delivery service can be deconstructed into the following steps:

  • Choose a service. There are many meal delivery services, including Hello Fresh, Blue Plate, and Home Chef. Choose the one that best suits your preferences.
  • Select meals from a weekly or monthly menu. You may narrow the selection down further if you have a certain type of diet you adhere to, such as a ketogenic or vegan diet.
  • Meals are preportioned, prepared, and delivered fresh or frozen. These can be ready to eat. At most, minimal cooking or reheating may be required.

Types of meal delivery services

Meal delivery services come in different forms, including:

  • National companies with various meal plans and dietary options
  • Local meal delivery services focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients
  • Therapeutic meal delivery services catering to specific health conditions

There are also meal planning apps that can help individuals with guidance in their health and fitness goals.

Dietary needs and meal delivery services

One of the advantages of meal delivery services is that seniors can access menus that consist of options that meet the dietary needs of those with certain conditions. Meal delivery service menus have options for people with diabetes, and those with high blood pressure can seek out a heart-healthy diet.

If you are an elderly individual with a medical condition that requires you to adjust your diet, check with your service provider and ask about available options.

Common concerns for seniors

There are a couple of concerns that seniors may have regarding meal delivery services — first, cost, and then the requirement of technology use. Paying for a meal delivery service is not like paying for takeout from a restaurant. It's subscription-based, and subscriptions can be purchased monthly, quarterly, or biannually. Prices vary based on factors such as the number of meals you have delivered on a weekly basis and the company you are purchasing services from.

While grocery shopping and preparing food at home may be the most budget-friendly approach, the time-consuming process of going to the grocery store paired with seniors' vulnerability to gastrointestinal issues from improperly prepared food and increased likelihood of causing accidental fires (especially if the individual has dementia) makes obtaining meals from meal delivery services the safer option. The benefits of meal delivery may outweigh the cost for those with mobility and cognitive limitations.

Many meal delivery services have straightforward and easy-to-use apps. The technology component is not as much of an issue for seniors whose food is ordered on their behalf by their caregivers.

Trying out meal delivery services for seniors

For example, in the case of restaurants, tastes will vary, and even if one orders the same dish from two different meal delivery service providers, they may strongly prefer that particular dish over the other. Seniors who want to try a meal delivery service should consider the following:

  1. Start with a trial or single-serving option to assess preferences. This is the best way to start. This way, you will have an idea of what to expect before committing to a series of meal deliveries.
  2. Consider portion sizes and reheating instructions for user-friendliness. Portions can be increased or decreased. Choosing a meal with easy reheating instructions may be ideal, as a portion may be too large to consume in one sitting.
  3. Involve seniors in the selection process to ensure they enjoy the meals. This not only ensures the meal will be consumed but also prevents the cost of ordering from being a wasted expense.

Final word

Meal delivery services are a viable option for seniors and their caregivers. This is the most convenient way to get nutritious meals, and it can help seniors maintain a healthy diet and keep their portions under control. If you are a senior or caregiver interested in this convenient alternative to food preparation, be sure to research and compare the available meal delivery service providers near you to find the best fit.

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