November 17, 2020

With Thanksgiving coming up, all of us at Companions for Seniors are reflecting on the vital importance of the dining room. Here in Chicago, this is a space where people come together to celebrate, to discuss their day, and to enjoy tasty and nourishing meals. 

For seniors, this room is particularly important. During the holidays and all year long, older adults benefit enormously from being able to share meals with family, friends, or companions. Studies have shown that older adults who share meals tend to make healthier choices, enjoy the food more, and enjoy better overall nutrition. 

Enjoying shared meals starts with a dining space that’s functional, safe, and easy to use. Curious about how you can make a dining room safer and more accommodating for the elderly? Here are five ways to make sure your elderly loved one’s dining room is accessible and functional: 

1.) Make Sure the Dining Room Lighting Is Clear and Bright

Proper lighting is one of the single most important elements of a senior-friendly home. In the dining room, this means adding clear, bright lighting that can be easily controlled. If there isn’t already an overhead light, consider installing one connected to a dimmer switch near the entrance, or which can be easily controlled by a remote. If there are windows, try to take some simple steps to maximize the amount of natural light that you receive, such as adding mirrors or using bright, clear colors in the room. 

For more ideas for senior-friendly lighting, check out our handy guide available here!

2.) Get Rid of Clutter to Clear a Safe Path

While most of us like to think we’ll always use our dining rooms for eating, the reality is that these spaces often become repositories for junk and clutter. Over time, piles of clutter can become a major safety hazard. Piles of documents, overflowing documents, and loose rugs can all pose a serious tripping hazard. Meanwhile, overfilled cabinets and high shelves can topple over and cause an injury. Help your loved one declutter and organize their entire home, working room by room or category by category. 

In the dining room, try to keep the area as open and spacious as possible. Free up space along the walls so that there is plenty of room to navigate and pass through — particularly for older adults who may use mobility aids or durable medical equipment. 

Of course, there will still be things you want to store in the dining area — from precious antiques to everyday serving dishes. Try to use functional, accessible storage such as sideboards or low shelves, which can keep everyday items within reach and reduce the need for stretching or stooping. For heavier or less-used items, keep them in closed drawers or credenzas, to reduce the risk of something falling and getting broken.

3.) Invest In Senior-Friendly Furniture and Tableware

A better meal starts with a better table! For an older adult’s home, consider a table with rounded edges and no sharp corners, to help minimize the risk of accidents. Consider using a table with a pedestal underneath, to free up space for maximum legroom and easy maneuvering. If your loved one uses a wheelchair, make sure there is enough space under the table for their legs to fit in easily. Make sure the table can support a lot of weight, and avoid dangerous finishes such as glass-top tables. 

Make sure that dining room chairs are well-suited to the height of the table. Look for chairs that are firm and supportive, easy to sit and rise from, and which offer comfortable cushioning. 

On the table itself? There are lots of senior-friendly dishes and flatware that can make meals easier, including flatware specifically designed for adults with tremors and shaking hands. You might also consider using colorful tableware; studies have shown that easy-to-see plates can help older adults with Alzheimer’s consume more food. You can also make carrying plates and dishes from room to room easier with inexpensive additions such as a rolling cart or sideboard buffet.

4.) Create a Space Where You’d Want to Eat

Many older adults are reluctant to eat altogether. For seniors living alone, the dining room can sometimes be an intimidating or lonely space, rather than a welcoming one. Do what you can to create a dining environment that is fun and inviting. Paint the area a cool, neutral shade; add some new artwork to the walls; and look for finishes that are comforting and cozy. Get rid of distractions, if possible. People eat better when there is no TV; you can also set a rule that no one is allowed to check their cell phone while eating at the dining room table.

5.) Consider Companion Care to Bring In Some Additional Help and Support

From enjoying a meal in the dining room to going on walks around the neighborhood with confidence, one of the best ways to make sure your elderly loved one is able to safely enjoy the advantages of aging in place is to give them a little bit of extra support around the house.

Non-medical home care — also known as companion care or respite care — can help give your loved one the personalized support they need to live life to the fullest, while giving the busy family caregivers in your life a well-deserved chance to rest and recharge. 

Available on a flexible schedule that suits the senior’s needs, a companion can provide hands-on assistance with activities of daily living — from lending a supportive arm to seniors as they sit or stand from the dining room table, to assisting with personal matters like using the restroom, bathing and dressing. A companion can also provide assistance with housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation, to help minimize common risks to seniors while still encouraging their independence. 

In particular, all of us at Companions for Seniors know the importance of food and dining, and make proper meal times a cornerstone of the in-home care services we provide. 

From helping seniors to shop for nutritious ingredients, to preparing and serving wholesome meals, to providing some welcome and pleasant company during lunch and dinner, we can help enrich and streamline the experience of cooking and eating — encouraging older adults to make better choices, enjoy a healthier lifestyle, and truly look forward to each and every meal.

Live In Chicago or the Suburbs? Companions for Seniors Is Here for You

Ready to talk over more ideas for making your elderly loved one’s home safer and more accommodating? Curious about what it takes to get started with home care? We are always here and ready to keep the conversation going! 

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity at home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help seniors age in place comfortably and safely, without having to uproot their lives and move into expensive and restrictive institutionalized care facilities. 

We will work with your family to develop a personalized care plan specifically tailored for your loved one’s needs, and your own hopes and goals as a family caregiver. We believe in fostering an open dialogue and sharing ideas; always going the extra mile with our services; and providing flexible care at the right price for every household.

We are locally owned and operated in Chicago, with service available in the city and suburbs. Have any more questions? Interested in seeing what sets our home care services apart? Give us a call at 866-910-9020, or get in touch online using our contact form, available here.