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Holiday Meals with Aging Loved Ones

The holiday season is upon us! For many, the holidays are a time to gather with family around the dining room table, enjoying food and conversation. However, the holidays are often a time when many seniors become increasingly frustrated by their disabilities. As a family caregiver, it is important to be aware of any limitations that your aging loved one may have while planning a holiday meal. That includes everything from adapted cooking tools that will allow them to stay involved in the meal preparation to seating arrangements to help them feel comfortable with conversation during the meal.

Meal Preparation:
As seniors begin to age, meal preparation can become more and more difficult because of arthritis or other conditions that limit mobility. But, there are some adapted kitchen tools that will allow them to continue to contribute to the meal preparation process.

  • Substitute a pizza cutter for a knife.HolidayPlaceSettings
    Holding and controlling a knife can be hard for seniors. Pizza cutters offer larger handles and are easier to control.
  • Invest in non-slip mats.
    Placing a non-slip mat under cutting boards or plates during the meal prep process helps to ensure that the cutting surface won’t move unexpectedly.
  • Use self-opening or spring-loaded kitchen shears.
    Instead of using scissors or a knife to open containers or bags, use self-opening or spring-loaded kitchen shears—they’ll help to decrease the stress on the joints.

Table Setting:
Table setting accommodations can help to make aging loved ones and those with disabilities feel more comfortable and at ease during the holiday meal. Consider some of these simple adaptations when planning your holiday meal:

  • Use utensils with a larger grip.
    Forks, knives and spoons with thin, delicate handles may look great, but they can be hard for seniors to use. The larger the handle, the easier it is to grip.
  • Choose dark colored plates.
    Holiday meals tend to be rather monochromatic. Using a dark colored plate helps to make the food stand out on the plate and makes it easier for seniors to see what they’re eating.
  • Provide glasses with handles.
    For seniors with arthritis or shaky hands, glasses with handles are much easier to hold than ones without.
  • Smaller tables are best.
    If you have a large family or have a lot of people coming to the holiday meal, consider using a few small tables instead of one larger table. This is especially helpful for family members with hearing challenges, as small tables are less overwhelming and make it easier for them to participate in conversation.

For more tips and information about adapted cooking tools and table settings, watch FirstLight Home Care of West Indy owner Kris Rogers on Indy Style!


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