The holiday season can be a time of joy for most people, but while everyone else is busy celebrating, many seniors find themselves home alone. While some older people prefer the independence of aging in place, so they can live at home and care for themselves, preparing meals can be a difficult task. It forces them to depend on programs, caregivers or their families for assistance. Since many programs are financially strapped and short on volunteers, providing meals for the elderly — especially during the busy holiday season — can be a challenge.

Read on for a list of organizations and ideas will give you information on how to get your senior friend or family member fed during the holidays.

Helpful Organizations

The national groups below can all help arrange continuous meal delivery for your senior. You can also look for local groups near where the elderly person lives. Your local Area Agency on Aging, senior center, church and aging in place group are a great place to start your search for resources.

  • Meals on Wheels
    Meals on Wheels is the oldest and largest national association, run mainly by volunteers who provide meals at senior centers or deliver them to those who are home-bound and cannot cook for themselves. The association provides additional services — some of which include microwaves, meals for pets and holiday gifts. You can search the 5,000 senior meal program providers by location on the MOWAA website.
  • Meal Call
    Meal Call is a volunteer organization that provides worldwide listings for Meals on Wheels and other nonprofit meal-delivery organizations. They also help recruit volunteers to assist in these programs. The Meal Call website provides a directory of meal service providers listed by location.
  • Mom’s Meals
    This Iowa-based meal service makes it easy to order online and get fresh food delivered. There are lots of options for every meal and they can meet a senior’s specific dietary needs.
  • Personal Chef To Go
    This program was started by two experienced chefs and also offers fresh meals to clients. You place orders online and they are sent right to you.

What You Can Do

There are several ways you can help your friend or family member eat well during the holidays. For starters, if you are already cooking a holiday meal, make extra food to package up separately so the senior in your life can re-heat now, or freeze for later.

You can also order cooked meals and grocery items from a local grocery store, restaurant, or online grocer. These online food suppliers ship throughout the United States and Canada; some even ship internationally as well. They would work great for a special-occasion meal that you want to send to a senior.

  • Amazon
    Offering a wide variety of grocery and gourmet foods, including international, gluten-free, organic, low sodium and kosher products, also offers free shipping on many selections.
  • Gourmet Grocery Online
    This site offers a nice selection of prepared meals, including vegetarian options, which will serve two to four people. A holiday two-pound turkey breast dinner with sage dressing, garlic mashed potatoes and gravy costs $89.95 and serves four. It also has an assortment of meats, seafood, soups, fresh produce, breads and desserts. Shipping options include same-day and free nationwide delivery.
  • DineWise
    This program offers a great selection of fresh, chef-prepared meals and a variety of food products made especially for senior lifestyles. It offers everything from single meals to monthly meal plans, with a wide selection.
  • Schwan’s
    With an assortment of flavorful options to choose from — ranging from prepared meals and pizza, to meat, fish, snacks and desserts — you have the choice of having food shipped or delivered. The site also offers nutritional information, coupons and daily sales.
  • Dean and Deluca
    This is a trusted name for gourmet food. Dean and Deluca offers an assortment of meats, fish and cheese, as well as prepared entrees.

Whether you decide to cook extras, order online or sign up for a meal service, rest assured your elderly family member or friend will have a holiday filled with great food and much cheer, even if you aren’t able be nearby.