If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of human connection.
Isolation is difficult for so many people, but particularly so for older Americans. That can affect psychological and physical health.
A recent survey from Home Instead Inc., a Nebraska-based in-home care provider with a franchise in Fort Wayne, shows older adults who eat mostly alone are more likely to be lonely. The result often is a poorer diet, compared to those with companions with which to share a meal.
More than 35% of those experiencing loneliness and isolation graded their diet as a “C” or lower, the survey says. Nearly a third – 29% – described their health as fair or poor.
More than 70% said they wish they ate meals with loved ones.
“Socialization at mealtimes reduces feelings of isolation and improves nutritional intake, but the pandemic has made this increasingly difficult for seniors – impacting their overall health,” Kevin Neebes, owner of the local Home Instead franchise, said in a statement. “Studies show that lonely seniors skip more than 20% of their total meals, so bringing them together, especially at mealtime, can increase healthy longevity.”
Lessening loneliness can include working with loved ones to plan and prepare meals and scheduling mealtimes to be together. Home Instead has launched Companionship Diet, a free program that offers other tips and recipes.
“Anyone can play a role in ensuring the aging population continues to feel connected as the pandemic wanes,” a news release from the company states.