Archive for the ‘Senior Nutrition’ Category

Free Caregiver Resource eBook: 8/26/12 Only!

Very important for those who are caregivers or know they will be one day soon.

 On 8/26/12 from 12 AM to 11:59 PM, my “Taking Care of Mom and Dad” eBook will be free on!

You don’t need a Kindle to get it – a PC, Android, or any number of eReaders will do just fine. Amazon has a free download for you to use. Download the reader and then download the eBook!

This book is regularly $6.99. If you have a need or know any followers that need help with caregiving, please share/tweet/google+ or do whatever you need to. I am happy to give this away for one day.

In order to get the eBook, click on the icon to the right or right here: 


New eBook for Caregivers

I am very excited to announce that my newest eBook has been released on Amazon in the Kindle Bookstore. The title is: Taking Care of Mom and Dad: A Baby Boomer’s Resource Guide. I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally have this completed. I worked for a very long time to put together all the information. I used all 20 years working with Seniors in putting together a comprehensive handbook for caregivers thrust into service, not knowing the first thing to do or first place to look for help. This is particularly helpful if you are caregiving from afar.

This is not a book that tells you how to deal with emotional issues, it is a book that is practical and comprehensive explaining different federal programs and how they work with a state. I show you the correct agency to contact through phone, address, or email who can give you state-specific information. While most of this CAN be found, you must be well-versed in Aging Service vernacular and acronyms which often change from state to state and program to program. It also clearly explains requirements in most elder-driven social programs as well as components that each state is required to offer.

If you have the correct reader, all sites (including the table of contents ) are clickable – they have been checked and re-checked to assure no dead links. You do not have to have a Kindle in order to read the eBook – I do not have one – you can download the Amazon reader for personal computers, blackberry, android, iPads, iPhone, MAC, and Windows phone 7.

Maybe you do not need this information, but if you know someone who does, please pass it along to them. The information presented in the eBook may be used by anyone in any of the states or territories within the U.S.

How To Get Your Parent to Eat Well

My mother lives in senior apartments.  Her next door neighbor has become her dear friend.  They share a porch and often you will find them and several other women gathered on their porch in the evening sharing news about great-grandchildren, new flowers blooming, what is on sale at the local grocery  and probably even a little gossip about the new person moving in.  Two evenings per week they all walk up to the community room with snacks and play different games like dominoes, Wa-Hoo, and Bunco.  Most all these activities are free because most all these apartment dwellers are on small limited incomes and have little money to throw around.  At this point in our economy, none of them do.

I am lucky that mom, at 74, still drives and is completely independent.  In fact, she is in such good health she will soon be taking care of my grandson (her great-grandson) for about 10 hours per day through the week while my daughter and her husband work.  She takes many of her neighbors to their physician, therapy, and even hair appointments.   The one thing mom skimps on is nutrition.  She has food; it’s just really bad-for-you food.  Living alone, she sees no reason to buy food to cook because it must be purchased in larger-than-she-needs quantities and it will go to waste as mom was never good with leftovers.  Consequently, her cupboard is filled with peanut butter, Little Debbie’s cakes, cookies, and Vienna sausages.  That is until recently.

One of the local grocery stores had a run on ham from the deli leaving ends and other random slices which they vacuum packed and, in an act of kindness, brought to the residents of the apartment complex.  Each resident was given a 5 pound vacuum packed bag.  5 pounds is a lot of ham for a single person! When I arrived that afternoon, most of the women were sitting on the porch discussing what they would do with all that ham before it spoiled.  Even if they froze it, they didn’t know what they could possibly do with so much ham!  Between the 4 ladies gathered and one who was home ill, there was 25 pounds to deal with quickly.  Before I knew what was happening, mother volunteered me to figure something out and off they scurried to bring back their packages to me.

The next day was my day off and I had NOT planned to spend it making individual meals for 5 different people!  Cooking does not come easily to me so all I saw in my future was a ham-handed headache.  When I arrived home, I asked my husband for help carrying in the parcels.  When he saw them, he just rolled his eyes and chuckled under his breath.  I adhere to Ellen’s “haters are my motivators” mantra so this only spurred me on!

The next morning I got on the Internet and went to my favorite recipe sites: and  I knew they would supply me with the recipes these rural women would eat and I could just cut down the quantities to fit each woman’s needs.  After an hour of hunting around and idea was born:  why not prepare dishes that would serve 8 people?  This would have them all eat properly for that meal, they could each bring a little side or dessert, they could socialize and each take leftovers home for the next meal!  Finally!  All that college was paying off!

I choose 8 person servings because American’s have increased serving sizes a great deal over the last 30 years and these women’s appetite have all decreased as they aged.  Next, I went to the store and bought heavy-duty aluminum foil, gallon freezer bags and other ingredients needed.  The oven went on and I roasted and baked and braised and crock-potted until the sun went down!  Then I wrapped and labeled and bagged all the items with instructions taped to the inside of the bags for protection and clear reading.  With that 25 pounds of ham, some potatoes, onions, green peas, cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes (total cost to me $25) they had 20 meals to share.

2 days later, after the food had frozen solid in my own freezer, I put them all in a box and went to mom’s place.  I explained my plan and without hesitation they all began planning that very night’s meal.  Each of them took 4 of the dishes to put in their own freezer and on those nights their responsibility would be to thaw and heat up the main dish while the others took turns making tea, dessert, and sides as well as bread.

That was over a year ago and the five women have continued eating together about four nights per week since.  Not only is my mom eating and feeling better, she acts more social and has saved a tremendous amount of money because she no longer buys large amounts of junk food, doesn’t snack nearly as much, and what she does purchase does not go to waste because it doesn’t have time to spoil.  They have added 2 more people to their Cooking Club and with the rotation schedule, yes they have a schedule, they each only have to contribute something twice a week.  The other two nights, they just show up and eat.  Lastly, during good weather they have incorporated a walk with their dogs after dinner each night.

Every three months, that local grocery store brings ham or chicken or turkey to them, they call me and my day off is turned into a cooking frenzy but when it is complete, I know seven seniors will eat well for 30 meals during the next 90 days.  It generally costs me less than $50 and it is worth every penny!  I see it as just another way to take care of mom.

Seniors and the Farmer’s Market

Fresh Strawberries

Fresh Strawberries From the Farmer's Market

My mom lives in senior independent living apartments.  She and several of her friends regularly go
to the farmer’s market together on Wednesdays and Saturdays to purchase locally grown produce.  Each Wednesday and Saturday evening the ladies take a little of their produce and make a big salad, squash casserole, green beans and new potatoes or any number of things they pick up that morning and have a pot luck.  That way, they all get to taste a little of everything while keeping their primary purchases for themselves. It’s also a good way for them to get together and chat over a good (and healthy) meal.  Some in their group were having a difficult time keeping up with the cost of fresh produce until last year when Oklahoma got their first Senior Farmer’s Market Program (SFMP) grant.  It helps the senior and it also helps the local farmers sell more of their goods.

In a person’s later years it’s important to maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. As you may have noticed on your latest trip to the grocery store fresh produce can be costly. Often the elderly are on very tight, fixed budgets and they may have to opt for cheaper
processed foods most of the time. The senior farmer’s market program helps seniors augment their meals with fresh produce during the local growing season.

The Senior Farmer’s Market Program (SFMP) is a grant offered by Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  In my state, it is a partnership between FNS, The Oklahoma Dept. of Human Services; Electronic Payment Systems Unit and Aging Services Division, Oklahoma Dept of Agriculture and select farmer’s markets who
choose to participate.  This program provides eligible seniors, 60-years-old and older the chance to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers.

Not all states offer a Senior Farmer’s Market Program. However, each state may apply for a grant to do so. For more information on the USDA program you can go here.  Oklahoma, the state I live in, is the only state offering SFMP on Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT).  All other states use a
voucher system.  I do not know how the voucher system works but I can explain how our system works:

The state Aging Services (ASD), a division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, distributes applications once a year to Area Agencies on Aging (Triple A’s) serving the counties in which there are participating farmer’s markets.  The Triple A’s market the program, collect the applications, and send them back to ASD. Staff at ASD organize the applications and send them to the Electronic Payment Systems (EPS) unit of the Finance Division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.  EPS gives final approval sending EBT cards to approved seniors.  Instructions for activating the cards works much like a bank or credit card.  The seniors then take their activated cards to a participating farmer’s market where a volunteer with a Point of Purchase machine helps the senior draw however many tokens they wish.

This year qualifying Oklahoma seniors received $50 for the summer growing season. Spending $5-$10 each week is recommended.  The seniors then receive their tokens to use at a local grower’s booth purchasing anything from onions and tomatoes to plums and blackberries.  The senior may only use the SFMP card at the farmer’s market. The State Director of Oklahoma EPS can track expenditures and if the card is used at a grocery or convenience store, the card can be shut down.  This is not a food stamp (SNAP) card, does not have the same income guidelines, and may not be used as a food stamp card.

It’s too late to apply this year, but next Spring call your local Triple A or Aging Services Division and ask if your state offers the Seniors Farmer’s Market Program and then help the senior you love to apply. The USDA maintains a SFMNP State Agency Contact List and you can go there to find out who to contact in your state about the program.

You may want to offer to help them fill out the application and later take them to the local farmer’s market to spend their benefits.
It’s a great program that offers an enriched diet to seniors over the summer!

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