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Six Ways to Make an Older Adult Part of Family Dinner (U.S.)

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Family dinner is a team effort. At least, it should be. When the whole family pitches in, the hosts likely feel less pressure. And that makes everyone part of the action.

Seniors can sometimes feel left out of the planning as well as the dinner itself, especially if health and mobility issues have impacted their ability to assist. The following six suggestions can help seniors feel as though they are an important part of the family:

  1. Check in with your older adults before dinner and ask them to select a favorite recipe that you could serve. If there’s a story behind the recipe, ask your senior to share it at dinner.
  2. Make sure your older adult has rides to and from the family dinner. Also, be sure to make any special food, seating or bathroom accommodations that might be needed.
  3. If your senior is up to it, ask him or her to arrive early. Perhaps your older adult can still peel potatoes or frost the cake. If nothing else, suggest he or she sit and chat while you’re cooking, or give advice from the sidelines.
  4. Seat your senior guests in a place where they are most likely to participate in the conversation.  Ask your senior to say grace.
  5. Set aside time for your older loved one to share a story from his or her life or tell about something interesting that has happened recently.
  6. Ask any children in the group to bring something special for your senior such as a handmade card or a school project to show.

For more resources, and to take the Sunday Dinner PledgeSM, go to

Last revised: May 5, 2015

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