The Joy of Cooking and its Benefits for Older Adults

Cooking nutritious meals at home can be a key strategy for healthy eating, particularly in an environment dominated by fast food, carry out, and processed foods. Cooking at home has become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many people to stay at home and most restaurants to close or limit service. Cooking at home can also have cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. However, changes associated with aging may present challenges to cooking and healthful eating.

In December 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging asked a national sample of adults age 50–80 about cooking and grocery shopping to better understand factors that affect the food habits of older adults in the U.S. Though these data were collected prior to widespread stay-at-home orders, they are useful to examine norms and trends that may influence how older adults shop and cook both during and after the pandemic.