Unlike other countries across the world, joint families still exist in India, making the lives of the elder members of the family a little easier, as they are close to their near and dear ones and can turn to them in times of trouble.
However, in recent years, there has been a proliferation of nuclear families, and more often than not, elderly couples and individuals have been left to fend for themselves. This could, over a period of time, take a toll on their health, especially when it comes to food and nutrition.
Speaking to The Hindu, B Krishnaswamy, the former head of the Geriatrics Department at the Madras Medical College said, “Undernourishment is a serious problem. A study by the Geriatric Department at MMC a few years ago showed that around 70 percent of the patients were undernourished. They should eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.”
Unlike youngsters, who can eat what they want, it is essential for senior citizens to follow a special diet which is low on oil, spices and even sugar to keep different ailments in check.
However, this can become an arduous task for them, especially if they are living on their own.
Coming to the rescue of the elderly, a catering service in Chennai is attempting to address their dietary needs and makes nutritious meals that are specifically catered to their individual requirements. What’s more, it even delivers the meals to their doorsteps!
Based in Anna Nagar, Chennai Geriatric Catering Services caters only to the senior section of the population and has been doing so ever since its launch in October 2014.
Headed by Vijayalakshmi Ulaganathan, an entrepreneur, the idea behind the venture was conceptualised by Padmashri Dr VS Natarajan, who is considered to be the father of Geriatric Medicine in India and known to be the first Indian Professor in the sphere.
In fact, Vijayalakshmi’s original plan was to open a day-care centre for the elderly. When she approached Dr Natarajan for help, he instead suggested a meals-on-wheels service for geriatrics.
Speaking to Silver Talkies, a blog on geriatric care and welfare, Vijayalakshmi said, “In Chennai, many elderly people live on their own. Several are not equipped to go out, buy groceries, or make their own food. They may have the money but do not wish to employ a cook for safety reasons. Since I already run a guesthouse, it was easy for me to start the catering service. This is how Chennai Geriatric Catering Services was born.”
Dr Natarajan, himself has identified the required calorie intake per meal that is low in oil and spices. While breakfast typically consists of idli or dosa along with a vegetable vada, lunch constitutes rice, rasam, sundal and a vegetable curry. Dinner includes chapati with any vegetable curry or idli.
Every condiment mix that is used at the catering service is prepared under hygienic conditions, and the cost of all the three meals together is ₹200 per day. Individually, breakfast and dinner cost ₹60 each while the price of lunch is ₹80.
Thus, not only does the model cater to their convenience, but it also ensures that the elderly have a balanced diet that is easy on their stomach and rules out the possibility of undernourishment.
This model can easily be replicated in Tier I and II cities and towns across India so that the aged can eat well, and remain in good health.
To know more about Chennai Geriatric Catering Services, you can call these numbers: 9444422890 / 9444983296.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)