Let “Mom” Cook the Meal.
When I started to blog a few years ago, I named the blog, “An Open-Faced Sandwich.” That was because I was feeling my role in the Sandwich Generation pretty intensely. It was a bit of a Panini press. I’ve long accepted that I will never leave a more involved parenting role. Andy will always need Rex and me to be an integral part of his life. But I was not prepared for the other side of the sandwich press – my parents needing me more. These years helped me realize that this is a key element in The Wellness Walk we are all on. One of the greatest challenges of supporting someone with Down syndrome and related disabiltiies (whether family, friend, or paid support), is the many things that influence our overall attitude. If you're feeling pressed from all sides, it's hard to be obesrvant, patient, and collaborative about things.
Now that I’m past the more intense moments of that time, I can also see the similarities between supporting people with IDD and supporting our aging parents. It’s stunning really.
For example, as our children with Down syndrome and related disabilities (IDD) age, parents must focus on the supports their child needs for a life separate from them. Sometimes families create a type of co-housing arrangement. There are as many ways to do this are there are families!
At a certain point, if we are lucky, we look at the same types of decisions with our aging parents. We look at what they need to be able to stay where they are – if that’s what they want to do – or we look at some other living arrangement that might include co-housing.
Central to both these situations is how our child or our parents envision their life. Many times the types of supports they need are the same too:
- Visual cues for independence
- Setting up the environment to promote success
- Various types of supports for the things that are a challenge.
- And the question that I always ask, “How will food be handled?”
Many young adults are able to live on their own with appropriate supports. When it comes to food, those supports can include:
- Help with menu planning
- Help with grocery shopping
- Assistance with cooking or
- To have meals provided.
I wrote Cooking by Color: Recipes for Independence as one of those tools. At the time I didn’t realize how pertinent it is for people who may be dealing with the effects of aging too!
When my Mother was battling cancer, the last thing she wanted to do was cook. I stumbled across a wonderful service created by a chef that provided flash frozen entrées for people. (What’s for Dinner? in Sellwood for those of you here in Portland) They did the cooking. We just had to order from the menu and pick it up. It was great for my Dad. It was a little pricey, but a great option.
Many people with IDD who live on their own do not want to learn to cook. They do, however, want to live away from their parents, on their own. Usually the solution is to use frozen meals from the store. Using frozen meals all the time has some risks. They’re typically very high in sodium, for instance, which can be a problem. Some folks need an easy chew menu to eat safely. Some folks need a gluten-free menu. And purchasing frozen meals for everyday use is expensive.
Here’s a solution for those of you whose adult children or parents struggle with cooking and who live on a limited income: Mom’s Meals™
I first ran into them at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in October. They were relatively new on the scene at the time. In fact, when I looked, I couldn’t see that Oregon was covered. I recently received an email from them – my how they have grown! They now are working with agencies in more than 30 states and offer a variety of specialized menus such as gluten free, heart friendly, carb-controlled, vegetarian, and all are diabetic friendly.
Mom’s Meals™ is a family-owned business in Central Iowa. They work with a number of agencies as an approved home-delivered meal provider. What that means is that your child’s waiver and your parents Medicaid may be able to pay for the food. They also have a private-pay program. The food is then delivered right to their door – anywhere in the states they serve. They “specialize in difficult to reach homes,” so unlike community-based programs who are restricted by budgets and geography, they can reach you. If Fed Ex goes there, they do, too.
Somewhere along the line someone decided that to live on your own as a person with a disability means you have to cook all your meals from scratch. I think providing individual supports means providing what the person needs to lead a quality life with the least invasive supports. Many people also think that being able to stay in your home when you are older means that you must be able to cook from scratch. Of course I think everyone can cook! And I love to teach and support.
However when if a person isn’t interested or isn’t able to prepare their own meals from scratch, that doesn’t mean they can’t live on their own. Nor does it necessarily mean they need a person to do the cooking for them. It does mean that we need to be more creative.
Supporting our kids and our elder family members is very much the same at times. This is one.
A quality life with quality health and a community vision – for everyone – at every age and every stage.
P.S. I do not receive anything from sharing about What’s for Dinner? Or Mom’s Meals™ other than sharing the idea with you. Look for similar businesses in your community if having pre-plated, home-cooked meals is a good solution for you.