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Loneliness and nourishment: how sharing a meal with an elderly person can be life changing

by Lindsey Nathan on 28 November 2017 10:15am 3066

As we age, we are less likely to eat well and this is compounded if we live alone.

It’s not surprising that social isolation has an impact on our appetite and consequently on our health. 

Food for thought

Food is an effective trigger of deeper memories of feelings and emotions and so our relationship with food can change as we age. Eating patterns are affected as the taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories of sharing a meal with friends and family. When you live alone these memories can be painful reminders of your current solitude.

That’s why more and more elderly people in the UK are skipping meals every day to avoid eating alone. A shocking 40% of people over 70 find eating on their own lonely and so decide not to eat at all.

It is not hard to see why loneliness has a negative health impact equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as alcohol, obesity and physical inactivity.

Eat together

A simple home-cooked meal shared in the company of others is the perfect antidote to loneliness and food prepared with kindness always tastes better. As a Home Helper cooking and sharing a meal with someone is one of the services that you can offer. 

Sign up to be a Home Helper

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