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Craving Companionship Puts the "Family" Back Into Mealtimes

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Companionship Contributes to Healthy Aging and Better Nutrition for the Elderly

Do you regularly crave that special dish Mom used to make? Chances are she or your dad does too. And what they may miss even more is enjoying that dish with you.

Research conducted for the Home Instead® network revealed that lack of companionship is the biggest mealtime challenge for seniors.* In the United States, approximately 40 percent of the population age 75 and older—6.7 million people—live alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Canada, it's approximately 37 percent, Statistics Canada reports.

That's why the Home Instead, Inc launched the Craving Companionship program, geared to promoting healthy aging by helping seniors eat nutritiously and stay connected socially. The program also encourages the revival of family mealtimes for the benefit of isolated seniors.

Craving Companionship offers family caregivers tips and practical advice to encourage companionship and easy, healthy meals that can make life less stressful for seniors and their loved ones.

"Who likes to eat alone? Nobody," said Sandy Markwood, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), whose members coordinate the popular home-delivered meals program, also known as "Meals on Wheels®." Because when a senior is isolated, it's indicative of bigger challenges that person could be facing."

Furthermore, the Home Instead network research confirms the value of mealtimes. An overwhelming majority of seniors (85 percent) say that having someone to share their meals makes those times more satisfying for them. In addition, nearly one-half (48 percent) say their mealtimes are more satisfying if they have someone prepare their meals for them.

Sadly, these same seniors say that several factors can get in the way of their mealtime companionship. The most common obstacles that prevent these seniors from sharing more meals are family/friends don't have enough time (28 percent) or they live too far away (20 percent).

The Home Instead network research revealed that 59 percent of seniors say they eat more nutritiously when family and friends are around. Families who provide mealtime companionship, whether it's a family caregiver or a professional caregiving service, are contributing to their senior's health and well-being in a big way.

Download the U.S. research results as a PDF (3.4 MB)

Download the Canadian research results as a PDF (3.3 MB)

*The Home Instead network completed 600 telephone interviews with seniors age 75 and older in the U.S. and 400 in Canada, excluding Quebec, who live alone in their own homes or apartments. The U.S. sampling error is +/-4.0% at a 95% confidence level. The Canadian sampling error is +/-4.9% at a 95% confidence level.

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Last revised: June 21, 2011

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