July 21st, 2011 at 1:40 pm
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What is for supper?

by Judy Kirkwood

If you want to pitch in and lighten the load for a caregiver, offer to bring over a meal. Surely, many of you are natural and nurturing cooks. I’m not and it looks like I never will be since I haven’t gotten the knack yet, at age 60. Sis is a good cook, but it was hard to find the time and energy after a full day of work.

Even good cooks don’t know tedium until they are preparing dinner every evening for someone whose life depends on eating well. You know you have to get what’s on the plate right for those aging taste buds and make it interesting enough that your loved one will be able to stay awake while eating. In addition, the roles and rules of the table are reversed. It’s the child telling the parent she has to eat all her green beans and take one more bite of cottage cheese.

In our family, as soon as we got home from school everyday, mom would call from work to ask “What shall we have for supper?” It was unimaginable to us how she could ask this boring question over and over. We didn’t understand the panic she must have felt with only an hour and a half at home between her day and night shifts. My dad had only an hour, but he didn’t have to cook so could take time to put his feet up and read the paper.

Feeding Mom

Thank goodness we have so many more choices now with fast food and take out to combine with grocery items.

Mom’s meals had to take into account her late onset diabetes and her belief in the traditional four food groups at every meal. Thus my sister had to have vegetables and/or fruit, dairy, grain and meat or poultry at every meal. Sounds simple, but when someone’s life depends on eating enough calories to survive even though they may become so distracted they forget to take the next bite, it is nerve wracking. Mom was, thank heavens, a good eater, but you want the stamp of approval of unprompted cleaning of the plate instead of having to throw half the food away after an hour of encouragement.

You also want some appreciation or acknowledgment. Mom did her best, but it’s always nice to have a third person to perk up dinner conversation. So when friends offer to bring food to help out now and then, ask them to stay and eat it with you.

An extra person can make supper a delicious mealtime memory to savor.

Posted in Caregiving | 5 Comments »
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5 Comments to “What is for supper?”

  1. Judy Kirkwood

    Hey. The last few years I lived at home when I was in college in the same town, we tended to eat at a wonderful downtown cafeteria. Oh how I wish there were more of those places — ones with good food, not the Hometown Buffets, although that was one of mom’s favorites as an elderly person.

  2. Judy Kirkwood

    People really do want to help and often enjoy engaging both caregiver and patient in conversation. It’s silly not to put the invite out there. Maybe some of our friends who we think are so busy with their own lives are actually a teensy bit lonely, too.

  3. Maggy Young

    Yes that extra person provides a change and another source of interest for Mom and alleviates the strain on the caregiver.

  4. Susan

    I never thought about how tough it must be to cook for someone who’s so dependent on what is consumed. I don;t cook much either, but there are plenty of health food stores in NYC — thank Goodness. So if ever I had to deliver a meal to your mom, I’d know what to buy. Thanks for the good advice.

  5. Lila

    That’s a great idea about inviting someone else to dinner to share in the conversation. I know that my mom liked that a lot.


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