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Local program created by senior home care to improve isolation and loneliness around meals

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Posted at 8:44 AM, Aug 27, 2021

NEWPORT NEWS ,Va. - In November of 2020, Williamsburg resident Rustam Sherazee was hospitalized with COVID-19.

"They were feeding me and stuffing me with stuff I couldn't digest," said Sherazsee.

Sick with no appetite, the 85 year old lost 70 pounds.

"He had a need for substantial nutritious food so we started cooking," said Esther Rhen, his caregiver.

Rhen works with Home Instead out of Newport News. Previously Rustam was very isolated, often eating alone.

"With them not being able to have meals with family members they were becoming isolated and seniors we found were just eating so many meals by themselves," said Hollie Bradley with Home Instead.

Home Instead surveyed seniors and found lack of nutrition and failing health surged during the pandemic, a survey half of seniors that lacked an appetite showing signs of loneliness, which is why they launched a new program called the Companion Diet.

"The company makes the meal more peaceful and satisfied," said Rustam.

Rustam is lonely no more, he now has two meals prepared for him daily by Esther, and the two share stories and stimulating conversation.

"He eats like he has not seen food in a year," said Rhen.

The Companion Diet is friends and family that take part in cooking, and connect with seniors to curb isolation and depression, with recipes tips and more.

"When I got this job I didn't realize how meaningful it would be," said Rhen.

A connection with the new companionship diet, a recipe for healthy aging and in this case a special bond. "I feel like I am gaining weight and I am must more satisfied," said Sherazee.