Eating together used to be a common occurrence for many families. Today, it’s becoming rarer to see families sit together and enjoy a meal around the table. But this disappearing tradition is perhaps more important today than it ever has been. Many people are so busy that they rarely spend time simply talking and visiting together anymore. But for seniors especially, the benefits of eating together can’t be overstated.
If you’ve been wondering whether it’s worth it to try to gather everyone up without electronics around the dinner table, there is some evidence to suggest it is. Here are a few reasons why Elder Care Alliance recommends eating together, especially if you have seniors in your family.
Better Food Choices
When people eat along with others, they tend to make healthier food choices. This may be because they don’t want others to judge their food choices. When people are alone, they’re more likely to choose foods that may not be the most nutritious.
Lower Risk of Obesity and Chronic Diseases
People who eat alone tend to have higher rates of obesity and chronic diseases. Those who eat alone are more likely to feel lonely, which could cause them to turn to the wrong types of foods for emotional comfort. Eating with others can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation and help reduce the likelihood of developing chronic diseases.
Improved Sense of Community and Belonging
For many people, one of the best benefits of eating together is that it facilitates bonding and promotes a sense of belonging. The dinner table is the perfect place to talk about the happenings of the day and to invite input from various family members. When people are eating without electronics in the room, they’re more likely to be 100% focused on each other and completely engaged in conversation.
Older adults may struggle to prepare high-quality food for themselves. Many older adults settle for quick dinners that are easy to prepare. When eating together at home or at a restaurant, the quality of food tends to be higher. If your loved one lives in an Elder Care Alliance community, he or she regularly receives nutritionally dense, great-tasting food designed to provide the nutrients older bodies and minds require.
Mature adults who eat alone are at a higher risk of choking than younger individuals. This is especially true for people with dentures or missing teeth who may not be able to chew their food well before swallowing it. Eating in a group setting can be much safer for older adults.
Tips for Eating Together More
Now that you know the many benefits of eating together, it’s time to figure out how you’ll make it happen more often. Here are some tips for prioritizing mealtimes with the older adults in your life.
- Schedule at least one planned meal into your week and prioritize it like you would any other scheduled event.
- Be flexible if necessary. If planned dinners don’t work for your family, try planned breakfasts or lunches.
- Try not to schedule other activities during mealtime.
- Make sure meal time is quality time. It is not a time to bury your face in electronics.
These tips can help you and the older adults in your life enjoy the many benefits eating together can offer.