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Cooking for one or how to have best of our later years.

Updated on July 15, 2015
MGWriter profile image

My background is based in social work, with an emphasis in aging well. I have honed my craft for over thirty years, focusing on holistic.

What is this new social way of life.

Cooking for one can be a very daunting task, and it isn’t the cooking, it is the eating alone. Many of us find ourselves alone after years of being with some one. We can’t always go out to eat just to snag someone into eating with us. And after all how would it look packing a lunch for two and driving down the street, parking the car and asking a person with a cardboard sign if they would like some lunch with us. Nope that’s not going to work.

Prepackaged meals come in at least two meals per package. Well we can make this work if we want to eat both or eat one today and another tomorrow. And if we use our own recipe, well that will be for maybe two, probably more like four to six. This is looking like the mealtime chef’s are ganging up on us.

All right we can start a group of friends with like interest always having the time of the meeting at mealtime. Well that will not work either, as many of those attending must go home to prepare a meal for the person they are living with.

When we were very young we prepared structured time with our dolls and soldiers, wait this may work. We can set them up at the table and share a meal with them. ‘Hum, this is a good idea’. Now what will we fix? No matter what we fix one plate is for us ad one plate for who ever is sitting at the table with us. Yes, this will work until someone finds out and has a doctor examine us for dementia. Not a good choice either, this growing old isn’t for sassies is it?

We may have thought the proceeding three paragraphs were funny, ridiculous or childish; the truth is over half of our national population is placed in the scenario each each day. This is a topic we need to take up and begin to fix. Certainly the food producers have been doing their part preparing foods (not necessarily) but still meals for one. If we buy the smaller portions at the store they cost more than the regular cans or packages. A package of pasta comes in a 16 oz. size. OK we can only cook part of it, just what we want. We already have health issues at our age, without adding to this by eating foods that do not have nutritional value. How many of us live more than 24 hours without seeing another human being?

These are serious issues; what can we do about them? While eating our meals alone may seem trivial to some the truth is far from trivial. We are social animals and as such, we need for our optimum health the interaction with others frequently, and at the very least once a day. The other part is if we do not seek out and experience socialization with other human beings we are placing our selves at risk of many different diseases. What you may be thinking, if I don’t see them and talk to them I will not risk catching the bulk of what is going around? While this might be true for the short run, our bodies need exposure to build immunities. If we have built our immunities, when we do go out we will catch more diseases. And most of us do not have the opportunity within our home to get the exercise we need so our muscles will atrophy and one of the muscles I speak of is our heart. We will be setting our selves up for at the least pneumonia (which can be a killer itself) at the most a little heard of disease called ‘failure to thrive’. While many of us may have heard about this regarding children the truth is it can affect anyone and is frequently mentioned in connect with the oldest of our old.

So what can we do to protect our selves?

  • Go out of our house for an hour each day.
  • Maintain social relationships which we begun prior to our cooking for one.
  • Seek new friendships, in socially acceptable places. (Join a book club, take up a hobby flying model planes, racing model cars, racing model boats)
  • And do not think that the TV is our friend; it is the friend of a sedentary lifestyle. This is a friend as damaging as the flu.
  • I know it sounds old school but become a volunteer for an organization you are interested in (a museum, the library, helping others with genealogy or at a school) stretch your mind and muscles.

These are not difficult things to bring into your lifestyle. And you will have some fun as these social elements are worked into each day. I have often heard that women seem to live longer than men. If this is true, very possibly that is due to the differences in lifestyle. While women are out of the home for activities (children, neighbors friends from different stations in life); men especially blue collar workers have their social life set by their employment. We need to expand our horizons.

And last but far from least, form a reciprocal relationship with a friend or through a social group, too call and check on another and in like form check on us. Once we have few friends, it is difficult to notice a friend not present, when we don’t see them regularly. Many different organizations have calling trees just for this reason. And many of us sleep better knowing if we don’t answer the phone at a specific time; there will be a concerned person on the other end of the line. The people who use to check on us or at least notice we were not answering have gone by the wayside of our new lifestyle; they were the postal person, the pastor, the people living around us and so on. Whether, by design or nuances these people are not in the position of gatekeepers any longer.

Next Week: How to build lasting friendships in later life.

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    • MGWriter profile image
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      Marsha Caldwell 2 years ago from Western Washington State

      I understand what you are saying. I too struggle with this, however it was when I began noticing my clients having the same struggles that I realized how many others do. I try to have a meal with another person at the very least every other day. I invite people over a lot and frankly I am not the greatest cook, but it keeps me from eating a chicken leg over the sink and talking to my self in the reflection from the refrigerator.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      This is certainly a concern that I have happened upon as of late. I am alone more than I am with others, and the cooking issue has certainly come up, as well as eating by myself. You are right on with the concerns that are raised; i.e. finding portion sizes of nutritious food, staying away from the TV and Internet, having reciprocal friendships, and getting involved with organizations that value our contribution. Getting accustomed to living alone is certainly something I never thought would be a problem!

    • MGWriter profile image
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      Marsha Caldwell 2 years ago from Western Washington State

      The challenge of the Baby Boomers is find a way to "age in place", due to the financial fall of 2007.