FLEMING ISLAND – Dan and Jeannette Schultz of Fleming Island moved to the area from Iowa in 1986. Their younger daughter went through high school here, married a man from Boston and has given the Shultz’s two young grandchildren.
Jeannette Schultz said her son-in-law grew up with fond memories of going to grandma’s house every week for Sunday dinner. The elder couple had moved to another state, but came back to the First Coast to be near their grandchildren. So, it made good sense to bring back the family custom of weekly Sunday dinners – which Home Instead Senior Care is asking residents to make a pledge to do.
"It’s very important to us, but it’s more important to the children," Schultz said. "They have a playroom at our house and they can play outside. They come over around 3 p.m. and take their baths here, put on their pajamas and by the time they get home, they’re ready for school on Monday."
Home Instead wants more families to follow the Schultz’s example because it has conducted its own research suggesting Sunday dinners are no longer a widespread tradition in America. The organization found half of those with a senior relative living within driving distance do not have enough sit-down meals with those relatives.
They found that 73 percent of those surveyed reported only breaking bread with their elder family members during the holidays. Betsy Miller of the local Home Instead office elaborated on why.
"It’s due to conflicting schedules and not enough time," she said. "Having Sunday dinner together could help with loneliness, which seniors said was number one, and it could also help deal with a recent loss – such as a spouse or friend, because their loved ones are dying."
As the Schultzs are seeing, Home Instead found that 90 percent of younger family members forge stronger bonds with their eldest family members and 61 percent of seniors eat better when not dining alone on quick easy meals.
"A lot of seniors suffer from depression and they don’t necessarily have good diets as a result. They also may not be able to get t o the grocery store and they don’t have the energy to cook like they used to," Miller said. Home Instead set up a web page featur-ingrecipesand more. To take the Sunday Dinner Pledge, visit caregiverstress.com/fitness-nutrition/Sunday-dinner.
Home Instead compiled its research data using an online survey of a random sample of 1,000 North American households that included seniors age 70-plus.
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