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Older. Wiser. Better Prepared?

Pre-COVID-19 poll of older adults hints at how they were—and weren’t—prepared for pandemic eating.

Older cooks at home

Compared with the younger, restaurant-loving generation, most people in their 50s and older were already capable home cooks before COVID-19 struck America. That’s according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, a cross-country survey of more than 2,000 adults ages 50–80. The survey was carried out prior to the pandemic by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

The cooking skills that enabled many older adults to eat dinner at home most of the time likely served them well when restaurants were shuttered. And those who rated their physical health as excellent or very good were the most likely to say they were confident in their cooking skills or enjoyed cooking.

But the poll also uncovered a vulnerability for many older adults: Only 5% had previously ordered groceries online, which may have made food shopping more challenging for people seeking to avoid infection. Those who wish to keep on limiting their trips to busy supermarkets will likely need some support with respect to online grocery shopping, to ensure healthy eating habits continue.

See also: Nutrition and Cooking Strategies for Sheltering in Places


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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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