A Carers UK report has revealed that most carers worry about providing balanced healthy meals but they often don’t have the time or energy to spend hours in the kitchen.
Money is often tight for carers with many people having to balance food bills with fuel costs to keep the home warm for a frail loved one. However, eating a balanced diet gives carers the energy to provide the best care they can, and that’s what carer Alan Bulmer tries to do.
Alan is ‘chief cook and bottle washer’ at the home he shares with his wife, Margaret, and he faces an extra dilemma when it comes to preparing meals. Alan - who cares for Margaret - is diabetic and needs to lose weight. On the other hand, Margaret has lost weight since her dementia diagnosis and she needs to put on a few pounds.
Now Alan is waiting to see a dietician to get help on how he can balance both their dietary needs.
‘Being a carer and doing all the cooking is demanding,’ says Alan (66), who lives with Margaret in Lincolnshire. ‘I constantly think about what we should eat and I worry about Margaret’s weight loss.’ Margaret was diagnosed with dementia two years ago but Alan said it took two years just to get a diagnosis so they have lived with dementia problems for the past four years.
After Margaret’s diagnosis, Alan took over all the domestic chores including cooking.‘I’d done a bit of cooking over the 38 years of our marriage but Margaret did most of it,’ he says. ‘I suppose I learned about cooking through being a Scout leader and going to camp. My favourite memories are of the last day of camp when literally everything that was left was tipped into the billy-can! It always tasted great.’
Alan now tries to be more organised than when he was camping and he writes out a weekly list of main meals typically including omelette, pasta, turkey, fish and roast chicken.
Breakfast is usually cereal with added fruits and nuts and lunch is often a sandwich with the main meal eaten in the evening.
‘I’ve just ordered myself a small dinner plate so I can control portions better,’ says Alan. ‘We often have fruit for a pudding and I give Margaret ice cream with hers to ensure she gets extra calories.’
Alan welcomes the Carers UK initiative to help carers prepare more nutritious meals. Carers have a lot to think about so anything that helps is most welcome,’ he says.
Carers UK survey findings:
- Six out of ten carers worry about the diet of the person they care for
- Less than half of carers had received nutritional advice but 86 per cent wanted it
- Half of carers neglected their own diet and half didn’t have time to prepare balanced meals
- To obtain copies of the Carers UK leaflets ‘Eating Well and Dementia’ and ‘The Importance of Eating Well for Carers’, call Carers UK on 0845 241 0963 or email email@example.com