Sunday dinner

Home Instead Senior Care is beginning an effort to get extended families to eat together each week, not just on holidays or special events.

An international push is being made to show senior citizens how integral of a role they play in their families’ lives.

Many seniors succumb to anxiety, depression and malnutrition in the latter stages of life, and Home Instead Senior Care is making an active push to facilitate change.

Change can happen through something as simple as sharing a meal.

A survey of more than 1,000 people in the United States and Canada revealed that more than 50 percent of families living near senior relatives feel that they do not share enough meals with their loved ones. This fueled the push for the Sunday Dinner Pledge project.

When seniors aren’t playing a role in a family’s everyday activities it can be easy to forget about them, said Sheryl Brown, community resource coordinator of Fremont’s Home Instead Senior Care.

“Life gets in the way of spending time with family,” she said. “Sometimes we put family last, we have all of our other obligations, but we really need to make an effort to make family a priority.”

Home Instead is a provider of in-home care and services for seniors, with more than 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises internationally. It is estimated that the organization provides more than 50 million hours of care annually in the U.S. and 15 other countries.

With the sole mission of enhancing the lives of seniors, the Sunday Dinner Pledge is a great way to make this happen, Brown said.

Collaborating with Meals on Wheels of America, the largest and oldest national organization supporting more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country, Home Instead is challenging residents of Dodge, Saunders and Washington counties to set aside time to sit down and share meals with their loved ones.

By visiting www.sundaydinnerpledge.com, people can make the commitment to have a Sunday dinner at least once a month with their significant elders. Making the pledge costs nothing, and for every pledge made the Home Instead Care Foundation donates $1 to Meals on Wheels — up to $20,000 — to help ensure that all seniors have access to healthy, nutritious meals.

Pledges need to be completed by July 31.

“The goal is to reignite that spark of importance of spending time with the seniors in your life that you love,” Brown said. “It might be something as simple as taking a meal over to a neighbor, maybe you have a senior next door who doesn’t have a family and doesn’t get a lot of interaction with other people. Long term we are just looking at how we can impact the lives of seniors on a daily basis, and this is one simple way that it can happen.”

Additionally, to help families across the country host their own Sunday dinners, Home Instead Senior Care has partnered with celebrity chef and mother of four Melissa d’Arabian to develop easy, nutritious meals. All recipes and meals — including a shopping list — will be available on the website. All lists and recipes are printer friendly.

Helping unify families is important, Brown said, but the true goal far surpasses something as simple as a “pledge.”

“It’s not about making the pledge, it’s more about just spending time with your family,” she said. “It’s also a great way from an intergenerational standpoint for the younger kids to learn about the experiences and the lives of older Americans and family members we have living close to us. It helps bring family together when you can have those conversations.”

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