We already know the dangers associated with isolation rise as we grow older. The odds of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and other serious medical conditions are greater among seniors who are lonely and isolated. But there’s one area of daily life that being lonely impacts that many of us fail to consider—eating meals alone.
While there’s plenty of focus on what types of eating plans offer the greatest health benefits to older adults, such as the Keto Diet or the Mediterranean Diet, one factor people don’t often account for is how we eat our meals. Most of us just aren’t the toll that eating meals alone can take on a senior.
The Dangers of Repeatedly Eating Alone
According to gerontologist and caregiver advocate, Dr. Lakelyn Hogan, “U.S. seniors who eat most of their meals alone are more than twice as likely to be lonely (42 percent) than seniors who eat most of their meals with others (19 percent).” Those statistics show just how serious dinner for one on a prolonged basis can be.
We do know that older adults, especially those who live alone, are less likely to prepare healthy meals for themselves. Many have diets that consist of convenience foods and take-out meals. Some skip meals altogether. This can lead to poor nutrition, higher risk for disease, and increased likelihood experiencing a fall.
What can seniors do to avoid eating so many meals alone? We have a few ideas we hope will be helpful.
Ideas for Making Shared Meals Easier
Join a local organization that offers meals: One way to avoid eating alone during retirement years is by joining a few community organizations that offer meals. Senior centers, for example, often serve lunch and dinner at very reasonable prices for members. Many publish their monthly calendar so you can sign up for any meals that sound enticing. It’s a budget-friendly way to ensure good nutrition while also enjoying friendly conversation. An added benefit is senior centers often organize activities and after dinner. It might be a game of cards, movie night, or a craft project.
Organize a weekly potluck or supper club with friends: Another idea that could be great fun is to organize a rotating lunch potluck or a supper club. Brunch might be another option to consider. Have everyone bring a dish to share and rotate who hosts the gathering each week. Keep it as formal or casual as your group would like.
Explore community gatherings: Don’t overlook monthly meals that are offered in conjunction with club meetings. The senior group at your church or synagogue might be held over a good meal. The same is true for retiree groups from your former employer. Even the local library might offer a lunch-and-learn for older adults with different speakers each week or month.
Consider a move to a senior living community: Nutrition and opportunities to socialize are two of the many benefits offered by senior living communities. At Sunrise, for example, residents have a choice of on-site restaurants and eateries from which to choose each day. You can grab soup and salad with a fellow resident and chat over lunch. Or opt for a more formal sit-down dinner in one of our beautifully appointed dining rooms.
Learn More About the Culinary Experience at Sunrise
Ready to learn more? Use this Contact Form to ask one of our experienced team members to call you to set up a time to join us for a meal of your choice and a private tour!