A study done in February found that 50 percent of surveyed families living near senior relatives feel they do not share enough meals with older loved ones.
Home Instead Senior Care surveyed 1,000 households in the U.S. and Canada.
The Omaha-based company is pledging $1 to Meals on Wheels (up to $20,000) for every person who pledges to reestablish Sunday dinners with an elderly family member.
“It’s great for our family to enjoy that companionship and company, and then also it’s to help another worthwhile organization such as Meals on Wheels, “said Kim D’Amico, co-owner of Home Instead Senior Care.
The company is asking families to prepare a nutritious meal and sit and enjoy their loved one’s company weekly or at least monthly, according to D’Amico.
The family would prepare a meal for their older relative and invite them to the house to socialize, possibly help with the meal preparation, and enjoy a healthy meal, seated among loved ones.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever dined alone, but it’s not so pleasant. You seem to rush yourself and our seniors are not physically able, they’re not going to sit down and prepare a hearty meal,” said D’Amico. “They’re going to eat the TV dinner and that’s not satisfying, it’s not nutritious, there’s no social interaction when you’re just watching the TV.”
The company hopes to get 25,000 pledges across the United States and in Canada by the deadline of July 31. So far, there have been just under 1,000 pledges made.
Home Instead Senior Care has partnered with Melissa d’Arabian, celebrity chef and expert on affordable and healthy family home cooking, to develop easy, nutritious recipes so families who pledge can prepare the perfect meal for their Sunday dinner.
D’Amico said normally, seniors would be missing out on both social and healthy food opportunities.
“We have our best conversations and some of the best obviously nutrition when we’re eating and many of our seniors are unattended, unaccompanied, and as a result they lack that stimulus,” she said.
D’Amico hopes the Sunday dinners become a habit.
“I think it will kind of positively incentivize itself because the more you do it, the more you will actually enjoy it and it’s a nice way to have things just be for that senior, so I think people may begin looking forward to it and really carving out that time,” said D’Amico.
Consistency is key, said D’Amico, since it allows seniors to look forward to seeing their family each week.
And for those without a senior, D’Amico hopes families even reach out to neighbors.
D'Amico says she'd like to add that there is no cost to the pledge to forge some wonderful family tradition for years to come while benefiting the most important seniors.
Families can take the pledge on their website and get suggested recipes. Also, the company has listed activities and topics to engage your senior before, during, and after the dinner.