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Sunday Dinner Program Helps Family Caregivers Share Meals with their Seniors

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Family caregivers say they understand the benefits to seniors of shared mealtimes, yet they struggle to make family dinners a reality. A recent study by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network, revealed over 60 percent of surveyed North Americans with senior relatives living nearby said they believed their older loved ones eat better when they dine with other family members. Respondents also said sit-down dinners with senior relatives may help alleviate their loved one’s loneliness.

But today’s hectic lifestyles often require families to juggle multiple priorities, and dining with their senior loved ones unfortunately can fall to the bottom of the list. Nearly half of those surveyed said “not having enough time” prevented them from sharing sit-down meals with older family members. It’s obvious families want to make intergenerational dining a more frequent event in their lives but need help to do so.

A new program—the Sunday Dinner PledgeSM brought to you by the Home Instead network -aims to help families share mealtime with their senior loved ones on a regular basis. The Sunday Dinner Pledge program offers great resources for you to share with families who need some help to make shared dining a reality.

It All Starts with a Commitment: the Sunday Dinner Pledge

Nearly half of those surveyed in the Home Instead, Inc. study said they would be more motivated to have dinner regularly with their senior loved ones if they took an online pledge.

To help families make senior mealtime a priority, they can sign the Sunday Dinner Pledge , which simply states: “I pledge to have Sunday dinner at least once a month with my senior loved one.” For each signed pledge received through July 31, 2015, the Home Instead Foundation®  will donate $1 (up to a total of $20,000 in the U.S.) to the Meals on Wheels Association of America program.

Easy Online Meal Planning Resources Help Families Save Time

More than 80 percent of survey respondents reportedly would like to share sit-down dinners with their senior relatives at least once a month, but respondents also cited lack of time as a major barrier to making this happen. The Sunday Dinner Planner offers a convenient tool for making menu planning efficient.

The menu planner provides nutritionally balanced main dish recipes sorted by protein type (chicken, beef, pork, seafood) and includes vegetarian options as well. You simply click the main ingredient desired, and then choose from a listing of recipes. Another click adds the recipe to your personal planner, with an option to have it emailed to you. The entire process takes just a couple of minutes, which makes it easy for family caregivers to complete.

Activities Bring Generations Together in a Meaningful Way

The Sunday Dinner Planner also includes an activity planner to promote intergenerational bonding. Ninety percent of survey respondents said they believe younger family members build stronger bonds with older families when they eat together, and an activity extends that bonding time beyond the meal.

As soon as you click “add to planner” when choosing a recipe with the Sunday Dinner Planner, you automatically receive several activity options to choose from. These include fun events like movie night, along with choices like “family tree,” which promotes discussing the family lineage or even delving into genealogy. What better way to share the family’s oral history with a younger generation?

Tips for Successful Intergenerational Dining

The Sunday Dinner Pledge program includes a wealth of articles related to helping families enjoy meals together. Resources include articles with versions for both the U.S. and Canada, including:

• 10 Conversation Starters to Kick Off Sunday Dinner
U.S. Version | Canadian Version

• Top Five Activities for Your Sunday Dinner Experience
U.S. Version | Canadian Version

• Six Ways to Make an Older Adult Part of Family Dinner
U.S. Version | Canadian Version

• Making the Most of Family Dinners, at Home or Away
U.S. Version | Canadian Version

Make Shared Dining Easy and Enjoyable

The Sunday Dinner Pledge survey clearly shows families feel conflicted about intergenerational dining. On the one hand, they recognize the benefits of shared meals for seniors and want to sit down at the table more often with their older loved ones. On the other hand, family caregivers say it’s a challenge to juggle multiple schedules and find time to create and cook meals for the extended family.

The resources available through the Sunday Dinner Pledge program can help make shared dining an easy, enjoyable time for everyone. To see a complete listing of program resources, visit

Last revised: June 2, 2015

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. June 16, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Posted by Cheri Perry

    LOVE this!! What a wonderful idea!


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