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My mom is getting to the age where buying and cooking food is becoming difficult. I hate thinking of her eating frozen food, and I'm afraid she may be offended if I suggest Meals on Wheels. Unfortunately, I don't live close enough to cook her food myself. Any suggestions on how to approach this with her, or things that have worked for you?

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Yes some parents get offended when you suggest that you could arrange for food, because it means you think they are not capable of doing it themselves and that you think you know what they should be eating. Its very individual how they react.
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Meals On Wheels in our area charges $4.50 per meal. My dad tried the service for a week. Other than the deserts but he didn't really like the food. I must say the meals didn't look very appetizing.
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About offending the old folks. Gotta work around that. Be a little cagey. I'm caring for my classically stubborn parents from afar. They refuse meals on wheels or any kind of help other than what I provide on my regular trips. My mom can still manage in the kitchen a little bit but it's mostly micro waved type stuff.

I've learned not to run in the house with bags of groceries and trying to cook up a storm as they just see that as me trying to take over. So I go buy some stuff that's supposedly for me and introduce them to some new stuff, just a little at a time. If I find they will eat someting I load up the freezer.

Keep it simple. Salad in a bag. Micro Steamer veggies and pasta. Low sugar fruit cups. Grapes are good....No pealing, cutting, prep. So I've got them at least eating stuff that resembles food and dad can find most of it at the grocery if mom writes big enough notes.

They have a sweet neighbor who will bring over the most wonderful pasta dishes and casseroles. My guys won't touch it. Maybe has a molecule of spices. In the trash it goes.

So you do the best you can given your situation. And btw, if you don't live near by and can't cook for them, you'd better get over the aversion to frozen food.
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The invoices in my area state suggested donation. My aunt paid $5 per meal for several months. They didn't have a delivery person when I first called and yes they ask if the person drives and a few other questions. But in a month or so they contacted me and said they would begin the service. She told her delivery person at one point that she couldn't afford it and decided to stop. I said ok if she wasn't going to eat it then might as well cancel. Then I noticed she was still getting the meals delivered. She said the delivery person told her that he wanted her to have them and kept delivering. I called and they told me they would keep delivering and she could pay what she wanted. I send a donation once a year, but I don't have to.
My friends aunt paid $2 a meal. She is in a different area. My cousin found that they didn't have a volunteer in her parents area and she started delivering for the area until they got another volunteer so it is different in different areas. Cousins parents now prefer to go to the senior center everyday for lunch. My aunt doesn't want the juice or the yogurt or the milk cartons so she gives it to her aid who takes it to another little lady. It's not wasted. I love that she gets a little social interaction with them three times a week. If your area has it available you might ask your mom to try it. She can always discontinue.
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MOW in my father's area might be a little different. The Senior Center contracts with another entity, probably a government MOW contractor for the whole area which subcontracts to others, including a Senior Center.

The options are for meals on weekdays, and extras for the weekend if desired. Holiday meals are a bit of "frosting on the cake" and often are prepared by one of the local restaurants.

Meal cost is $3 per meal; periodic requests are made for additional contributions for specific fundraising activities to support the MOW program.

If we have a medical or other appointment and my father can't be home to receive the meal, I make arrangements to pick it up from the senior center before or after the appointment. On occasion, set out on a table are surplus foods (often many loaves of bread) donated by anyone who has too much to use. Prices are generally about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of bread at a supermarket.

It does take some vetting to become enrolled, homebound status is one of the criteria for participation. It was explained to me that it wouldn't be arranged on a try-out basis - either accept it or don't ask for it.

Sunnygirl raises some interesting suggestions. If Mom is concerned about the cost, she could arrange with the MOW contractor to pay directly and Mom can believe it's free. For some seniors, that's a big issue.
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I agree that Meals on Wheels is a great opportunity for a smile at the door. Plus, a nice break from your own food. My great aunt used to get them and she loved them. The food was good and she enjoyed the kind words from the delivery person.

To my knowledge there is no requirement that you pay them anything, though, I'm sure a nice donation is appreciated from those who can afford it. I bet many aren't able to do this though.

I think I might just get the information about the delivery in her area and make sure it was ready to go and then say to her that there was a great opportunity to try out this food. I might imply that it had just become available in her neighborhood and approach it like it's a great treat. You could say, that this would save you in the kitchen all the time, plus it's a safety check. I'm not sure why this would bother her. It sounds like a win win to me.

If she isn't wild about it the idea, ask her to just try it out for 30 days to see how it works. Later, she might like it so much that she continues with it.

I have learned that approaching ideas with seniors sometimes just has to be done, though you can be sensitive about it. I recently suggested a rollator for my mom. She was not happy, but after she thought about it a little while, she told me that she would consider it. She admitted that I did have a point about seeing her unsteady on her feet recently. I told her about several people my age who were using them and made it sound very smart.
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Meals on Wheels is not free. They expect a "donation" for each meal.
My experience with MOW is that the elderly gentleman would just stockpile the meals in the fridge and his housekeeper threw them out as they spoiled.
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Meals on wheels can be ordered daily or just on certain days if it is available in the area where your elder lives. In my moms case she didn't live within a service area. Plus if a specific diet is needed, it may not work. My sister and I took turns providing my mothers food for a couple of years and when my sister was having her own health challenges, I took it over. I lived three hours away but took her food weekly. She had a special diet so we couldn't buy her food from stores or restaurants. I packed it in single serving containers that could be frozen. As far as offending your mom, I would think she would be happy to have the help if she needs help. My aunt receives MOW three times a week. She picks and chooses the portions she eats and often doesn't eat the food but we both like it that she gets a visitor on those days who calls me if she doesn't come to the door. I also prepare her food weekly. She's two hours away. I know some areas have food and grocery delivery.
I don't have that available. I buy certain products in bulk. Paper towels, tissue, napkins, plates, pads, diapers etc. Cleaning supplies, tooth paste, dog treats whatever I can get in larger quantities. Weekly I pick up perishables like eggs and milk and bread. It's pretty simple and straight forward once you get it down. In my mothers case there was often food that went to waste. I just used that as a way to tweak my offerings and learned to adjust as her health declined. She would occasionally be treated to no no food offerings from grandchildren or aids that would make it harder to stick to her no salt diet. You have to just take that in stride. You might start by taking fruit and a favorite food to break the ice. If you live too far away to make weekly trips, you probably need to be looking for someone to provide more than food. Little problems begin to crop up that don't get mentioned on phone calls and that aids don't notice.
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Meals on Wheels isn't just a food delivery service. It's an opportunity for a break in the day, for a greeting and brief exchange of "how are yous" with friendly, caring volunteers. My father not only knows the meal delivery people now, but one of them brings him special treats weekly, and he also gets treats and nice handmade cards from schoolchildren who participate in the MOW program.

It's nice for an elder to get handwritten cards around holiday time, or just whenever the children are working on an elder project.

MOW deliverers will also ask if she would like extra meals for the weekend or holidays.

Sometimes he asks them to get his mail for him, which they do.

Some of the frozen food dinners aren't that bad; some don't have preservatives, but given that they are frozen, they're obviously not as fresh as home cooked meals.

What you can do is cook extra meals, freeze them in one person containers that she can microwave or just pop in a saucepan to cook (freeze them in a saucepan so they can just be put in the pan) and bring them whenever you go to visit.

What I've found is that between the MOW and a declining appetite, what I cook and bring out sometimes doesn't even get eaten.
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