Mealtime, Loneliness, and Thoughts to Chew On

  • Posted on Jan. 5th, 2016

by Joy Loverde

Automat, by Edward HopperPicturing myself on any given evening, sitting at a restaurant table alone surrounded by diners who are engrossed with each other and their meals instantly surfaces deep sadness and thoughts of being forgotten. On the other hand I have friends who love to eat alone. Go to movies alone. Do almost everything alone. That’s not me, and I blame my Italian upbringing for not being prepared to handle situations of this nature.
Every night of the week throughout my childhood, my Mom and five siblings participated in a highly social event — a family sit-down dinner. Conversations among the six of us were lively, interactive, and challenging (being the middle child, it was often difficult to get a word in edgewise). After-dinner rituals were no less engaging; clearing the table and washing the dishes was fun and entertaining, and usually included harmonizing to popular songs. “You are my sunshine,” anyone?
When I left home as a young adult to pursue life on my own, eating breakfast and lunch alone rarely stirred emotions of loneliness. Like everyone else, I was busy and pressed for time. Besides, I typically ate on the “fly,” multi-tasking along the way. Eating dinner alone, however, was an entirely different animal, and I continuously fought emotional demons of loss.
It’s no wonder that Helen Dennis’ recent article titled, Successful aging: Eating alone doesn’t have to be lonely struck a chord with me. The issue of eating alone affects millions of Americans. According to the National Institute on Aging an estimated 19 percent of men and 37 percent of women over 65 live alone.
Ms. Dennis writes that while living alone does not necessarily equate to loneliness, although in some cases, loneliness is an issue. “For widows, the feeling of loneliness may become heightened during meal time particularly when sitting across the table from an empty chair, once occupied by a loved one. It’s no surprise that the desire to prepare a meal for just one person is not fun – with no one to speak with about the events of the day, front-page stories, plans, children, the ballgame or the meal you just prepared.”
Additionally, living alone may also be a barrier to healthy eating. After a long day at work, if you have ever grabbed a bag of popcorn and a glass of wine, and plopped down in front of the computer for a round of binge watching on Netflix, you know what I’m talking about.
So back to the topic at hand – eating diner alone. If this subject resonates with you as much as it does me, I would like you to know that I have integrated myriad lifestyle strategies that have helped me to overcome some of my stresses about solo dining – at home and beyond. I share them with you now:

• Shifting gears. While I used to believe that dining alone in a restaurant was odd, I don’t any more. Everywhere I look, people are dining alone. This fact raised my comfort level that I was not being stared at or putting my solitude on display. Also knowing that more and more people are becoming single by way of widowhood and divorce, solo dining is going to escalate for a long time.
• Guess who’s coming to dinner? Take the initiative to share home-cooked meals. Friends, co-workers, neighbors, grandchildren, and people you know well who work in the stores where you shop – you are literally surrounded by others who are in the same situation as you.
• Pot luck. Start a tradition one night a week where everyone rotates having dinner at someone’s house. Share responsibilities — one prepares the entrée, the other dessert.
• Solo-friendly eateries. Dine in places that make it easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger (if that is what you desire) or allow you to eat alone without occupying a table for two. Bench-like seating and eating at the bar are a few ways to accomplish this goal.

• Tech-friendly. Technology has changed the experience for solo diners. Engaging in reading a book, talking on the phone or whatever else can be accomplished on a device is not acceptable behavior in all restaurants. Be aware of differing dining policies.

• Eat as you learn. Consider taking a cooking class one night a week. Invite fellow students and friends to your house to show off your new skills as a chef.

• Carry out. Who says you have to eat your home-cooked meal at home? Prepare your food at home and go on a picnic – the beach, park bench, outdoor concerts, seating in front of your favorite fountain or monument.  bench and fountain

• Play with your food. From food courts at the shopping mall to zoos, museums, and baseball games – you can enjoy a meal surrounded by a variety of fun and entertaining activities.

• Switch it up. Eating your main meal during the day (around lunch time) frees you up to be occupied with an activity other than eating when dinner time rolls around.

• Volunteer. Often times, when you volunteer to serve meals at the local homeless shelter you are also invited to share the meal with fellow volunteers.

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Joy Loverde’s 2015 Year in Review

  • Posted on Dec. 27th, 2015

Below is a compilation of posts Joy Loverde’s 2015 year in review from the  EldercareABCBlog. If you missed themimage003 the first time, be sure to go back and catch up via her wisdom and great outlook on life and excellent caregiving support.

Joy started the year out with a post about risk taking. It’s 2015. Get ready to jump with Joy!

Joy wrote:

“The question that always gets me out of my rut is this: What’s the worst that can happen? When I write down my answers to that question, and see in black and white that I am fully capable of managing any challenges that come my way, I go for it.Another piece of the puzzle for me when making a “risky” choice is to seek the wisdom of my elderly friends who are over the age of eighty. These people are my forever trusted advisors and they have NEVER steered me wrong.Happy New Year, everybody!”

Later that Month, Joy wrote, “Moving a Reluctant Parent – Part 18and shared the ongoing story her Aunt and being there for her while she made the decision to sell her house.  In this addition her Aunt has indeed sold the house.

In February she shared, “Like it or not we are judged by others” and wrote about the importance of communication skills and a great man to help if you may not excel in this area – Bill Moller.

At the end of February she wrote: Why Nobody in the Family Talks about Money

Here is a snippet:

“Historically, few people have had the experience of hearing parents and other family members talk about money as they were growing up. Turns out, not having role models who carved the way has a lot to do with keeping up the tradition of remaining silent. Unfortunately, family silence has serious negative financial consequences.”

In April Joy wrote a follow up, Joy Loverde Shares Tricks of the Trade: Part 2 to her last blog “Joy Loverde Shares Tricks of the Trade: Part 1” focused on a creative solution for financing the care of an aging parent. She wrote about three siblings who managed to cover the cost of their mother’s care in spite of being on extremely tight budgets.

Part 2 takes you down a different path looking at caregivers who creatively solve eldercare problems.

Time Flying by? Joy Loverde Offers Tips on Slowing it Down

Joy wrote: “In her article, Jessica Stillman writes, “Our sense of time, it turns out, isn’t even. It’s dictated by how much information we need to process — more information spells more time, which is why our younger years, when we’re processing lots and lots of new stuff, seem to pass so slowly.” Ms. Stillman further explains that this basic idea was laid out by neuroscientist, Dr. David Eagleman, foremost researcher on time perception.

In other words, “the more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”
So, that explains the why. Now what?”

In May Joy shared: Age of Disruption Tour- A Commercial

“What if nearly everything we know about aging is wrong?
On his 30-city tour, Dr. Bill Thomas encourages audiences of all ages to turn the tables on “Life’s Most Dangerous Game” and approach aging with the skill and enthusiasm it requires.
I attended Dr. Thomas’ Age of Disruption event last week and found it to be entertaining, visually stimulating, and highly educational.”

In June Joy wrote about some tasks she needed to complete for her Aunt in   Moving a Reluctant Parent: The End (Part 19) and how her aunt is now enjoying her life in assisted living.

In  Alzheimer’s Culture Change: Coming to a city near you

Joy’ presents some great ideas. She writes:
Nothing changes the game of life faster than the onset of dementia. Upon diagnosis, family caregivers regroup and redirect long-term care plans.

The Caregiver’s Journey

In this blog post, Joy shares her review of the book, Caregiver’s Journey by Todd F. Cope, RN. Here conclusion:

As I consider the intent of The Caregiver’s Journey and The Complete Eldercare Planner, while both books can stand alone, together they complement each other as useful tools for any caregiver.

Visit for Stories Worth Remembering

Joy's Mom and sticker bookIn her post, “Think Outside the Lines”, Joy talks about the recent adult coloring craze.
She shares:

“The American Lung Association recommends 52 stress reducers, and coloring is one of them. Imagine that — coloring for health benefits and socializing with others while you color. Good stuff.

So next time you’re wondering what to get the person who has everything and needs nothing – these activity books could be the answer. And get one for yourself.”

In How’s the Water, Joy talks about life balance.  She wrote:

“Sometimes (most times) we are the last one to know if life is out of balance. We are in so deep (like the goldfish in the photo) that we have no clue where we are deep in the scheme of things.

Everybody – at home and at work — tugs at our sleeve. They need. They ask. We give. We do. The phone rings, we pick it up without thinking. Somebody asks us to do something else, and we say “yes” as if we are on auto-pilot.”

Visit the link above to read her suggestions for regaining your life balance.

Creativity, Eldercare, and Caregiving: Are they related?

She shared: “Caregiving has become more and more integrated into my life – personally and professionally — and the lessons I’ve learned along the way (and the ones I’m still learning) seem like something my younger caregiver me would like to know.

Here in one thing I’ve come up with for advice to the early version of me and the caregiving process:   Never underestimate the power of a creative outlet.”

In Joy’s last post for 2015, Joy wrote, Grandparents with Dementia: Take Charge and lovingly addresses family members who may get lost in the shuffle.  The grandchildren!

“If you have recently been diagnosed with a dementia-related illness, the time is now to sit down with your grandchildren and read them When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child’s Perspective on Dementia by Toby Haberkorn.

In the author’s words, “Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions are adult topics; but this book is written in a simple, straightforward manner that children ages 4 to 10 years old can understand. The lovely drawings convey the warmth and sensitivity of the family’s journey.”

Thank you Joy for sharing with everyone here on throughout the year. We look forward to your 2016 blog posts.  May 2016 be great year for you, your family and all those you help.


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4 Ways Seniors Can Stay Young

  • Posted on Dec. 11th, 2015

by Ron Burg

Retaining youthful exuberance can be quite a steep task for many aging adults. Physical and mental exhaustion both contribute to seniors losing the vibrancy and effervescence that they used to put on display during their younger days. Just because the odds are stacked against them does not mean that aging adults have to resort to a sedentary lifestyle where they are confined to their beds, couches, and chairs, with little or no recreational activity and social interaction.

As long as a person has the determination and the enthusiasm to make life enjoyable, he or she can succeed in doing so regardless of the age and the health complications that come along with it. After all, it’s not how old you are, but rather how old you feel. As far as aging adults are concerned, here are 4 simple ways in which they can feel young again:

1) Eating Healthfully

If you are what you eat, then eating healthfully will allow seniors to stay far away from mental and physical disorders. With age, human beings are required to alter their diet in order to eliminate as much unhealthy food from the menu as possible. The ideal diet for an aging adult should consist of cooked fruits, vegetables, yogurt, nuts, and small portions of white meat protein or beans. Regular meals based on these foods will keep their bodies supplied with sufficient energy and allow them to gain the physical strength required to carry out their favorite indoor and outdoor activities. Eating healthfully also reduces the risk of anxiety disorders and untimely mood swings.

2) Socializing

One of the simplest and easiest ways of staying and feeling young is by socializing with people of similar ages and backgrounds. If seniors refrain from socializing and keep themselves bound within the four walls of their house, then they are simply asking for a bunch of mental and physical illnesses to infiltrate their bodies. The more they communicate and converse with people, the easier it will be for them to tackle the hardships of aging.

3) Exercising

The benefits of physical exercise cannot be stressed enough, especially in the case of seniors. Exercising keeps the body rejuvenated and the mind refreshed. It prevents seniors from being inflicted with a number of different diseases. Heavy workout sessions are not recommended for aging adults. Rather, light exercises such as brisk walking, slow dancing, and stretching (in the form of yoga, perhaps) can help them rise above the physical restraints and limitations that accompany old age.

4) Learning

One of the reasons why seniors feel old is because they lose the excitement and zeal that comes with learning something new and discovering something extraordinary. Since most seniors stay detached from the workplace and academic institutions, it becomes difficult for them to come across new sources of learning. Enrolling in a library or joining a book club can solve this problem. There is no end to learning, and the sooner seniors realize this, the faster they will develop the desire to engage in intriguing learning activities. Besides, joining a book club or a library offers a getaway from the monotony and boredom of retirement

Some say that age is only a number. We like to think of age as a perception of who you are. As long as seniors believe that there is a lot more that they can take from life, and give back to it, they will continue to feel young in their hearts.
Ron Burg is a writer for and he primarily writes about senior care and home care.

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