Family Caregivers Get Help to Ease Stress of Cooking for Seniors

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Studies show caring and cooking for an older family member with several nutritional risk factors is stressful for family caregivers, so Torrance Home Instead Senior Care is offering a free handbook of nutrition tips and healthy recipes for seniors. Caregivers can also go to http://www.foodsforseniors.com for additional information, research and resources.

Good nutrition is the first line of defense in helping to keep seniors healthy and independent

Adult daughters, who typically serve as home cooks for seniors, are feeling the heat in the kitchen, according to a recent study of family caregivers. The stress is especially high for adult children who are caring and cooking for someone with several nutritional risk factors. That's why Torrance Home Instead Senior Care is offering a free handbook of nutrition tips and healthy recipes for seniors. Family caregivers can also go to http://www.foodsforseniors.com for additional information, research and resources.

Senior care expert Denise de Cock, RN, owner of the Torrance Home Instead Senior Care office, which serves seniors from San Pedro to Marina del Rey (http://www.homeinstead.com/286), said that risks associated with medication use and illness can negatively impact the health and independence of seniors as they age. "Good nutrition is the first line of defense in helping to keep seniors healthy and independent," she said.

Adult children caring for an older adult (average age 81) reported the top three nutritional risks as:
1.    Three or more prescribed or over-the-counter drugs per day.
2.    An illness or condition that made the senior change his or her diet.
3.    Having lost or gained more than 10 pounds in the past six months without trying.1

Research conducted for Home Instead Senior Care revealed caring for an older person who has three or more nutritional risk factors is tied to increased stress levels. Of the caregivers who rated their lives as extremely stressful, 67 percent were caring for loved ones with three or more nutritional risk factors compared with 33 percent of caregivers whose seniors had fewer than three nutritional risk factors.2

That's why Home Instead Senior Care has partnered with national nutrition experts from the University of Maryland and Duke University Medical Center to promote healthy, stress-free grocery shopping and meal preparation tips and recipes for family caregivers.

According to research, family caregivers are taking an active role in the lives of these seniors who need help, shopping and preparing meals for their older loved ones, which could be contributing to that stress, de Cock said. In the Home Instead Senior Care survey, 83 percent of family caregivers help with groceries or other errands; 65 percent assist with meal preparation.3

Experts advise stressed-out family caregivers to get organized by creating a shopping list so their seniors regularly have healthy ingredients, collect interesting recipes and ensure their senior has the companionship they need to shop for groceries and make mealtimes enjoyable.

"Buy fresh ingredients and prepare meals with older adults, enticing them with what they like to eat. Bring in new recipes and ingredients; we all get in a rut," said Dr. Nadine Sahyoun, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Home Instead Senior Care's de Cock said that companionship is one ingredient that family caregivers don't want to leave out of a senior's meal plan. Companionship is vital to making mealtime more engaging for an older adult as well as in alleviating the strain on family caregivers. "So many seniors are alone or lonely. If you can't be there to shop for groceries or eat with loved ones, consider a congregate meal site - such as a senior center - a meal delivery program or a paid companion to help encourage older adults to develop the kind of nutritional habits that will keep them healthy and give you peace of mind."

About Home Instead Senior Care, Torrance
Home Instead Senior Care/Torrance provides in-home senior care to clients in the South Bay, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offering an unmatched level of integrity, trustworthiness and responsiveness. It is the only senior care provider in the South Bay with a comprehensive hiring and training program that ensures high quality care and reliable, personalized client service that consistently goes above and beyond expectations.

Through ongoing relationships with local senior care nonprofits, agencies, medical centers, assisted living facilities and other senior service providers, Home Instead Senior Care/Torrance has become the most informed source for senior care in the South Bay.
For more information, call 1-800-FOR SENIORS or visit http://www.homeinstead.com/286.

Media Contact: Mary Blake, MB Writing & Consulting Group, (310) 376-3163 or 310-710-2755.

1,2,3. The Boomer Project (http://www.boomerproject.com) completed online interviews with 1,279 U.S. adult caregivers, ages 35-62, with a parent, stepparent or older relative for whom they or someone in their household provides care. Questions regarding nutritional risk factors and stress adapted from Abbott Laboratories' "Determine Your Nutritional Health" checklist. Used with the permission of Abbott Laboratories, copyright 2008.

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