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Three Dining Trends in Assisted Living Communities


December 26, 2019

Senior Living

BY Alex Lynn

Excellent nutrition is vital to everyone's health, and it's notably important to our senior family members. At Weatherly Inn, we are especially proud of our dining options for both assisted living and independent living communities. If you're touring senior living communities, looking for a place for your parent or grandparent, it's essential to know that you don't need to settle for a depressing cafeteria environment or solitary dining.

Gone are the days of green gelatin and chicken noodle soup for our loved ones! Foodservice has come a long way in senior housing dining venues. Modern dining programs have better menu items, full-service dining plans, and even restaurant-style dining choices!

There are so many new methodologies when it comes to senior dining. With this article, we're going to take a look at fresh dining trends in assisted living environments, and the importance of taking a tour during a mealtime. We'll also touch on dietary issues and medication issues, so you know what to look for when touring a senior-care community. Bon Appétit!

1. Freshness and Quality Matter - Dining Is an Experience!

We are so blessed to live in a time and place where fresh foods are available to us year-round. The trend to provide our elders with high quality, fresh foods has made a strong impression on the eldercare industry.

  • When touring nursing homes, ask about the freshness and variety of produce available for residents
  • Ask about their menus and daily dining times
  • Can diners choose their mealtimes? This can affect their quality of life

Some assisted living communities offer dining options that are truly gourmet! Others provide a restaurant-like setting, or even a close, family-style dining setting. Regardless of the dining style, know that fresh ingredients and proper nutrition have a tremendous impact on both the quality of food and the overall quality of your loved one's lifestyle.

Sit in on a Meal When You Tour a Long-Term Care Community 

You'll have a chance to see if their food is as good as they claim it to be, and see if the residents are happy about eating it.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, so make sure they're available every day
  • Fresh produce is fibrous and aids digestion
  • If your loved one has specific dietary requirements (such as Diabetes, Crohn's disease, or special meds), ask about individual meal plans

2. Individual Meal Planning at Assisted Living Communities - Medications Matter

Another trend in assisted living communities is personal meal planning. In some cases, this is just a nice amenity to have. For others, a specific diet is crucial to your loved one's health. If your family member has special dietary needs, be sure to discuss this with dining services or the staff when you're visiting communities. 

On Medications and Nutrition 

Some foods and medicines just don't mix. The assisted living community you visit should seem knowledgeable about specific food/medication issues. For instance, if your loved one has high blood pressure, they may take an ACE inhibitor like captopril, enalapril, or fosinopril. 

These medications require a diet that is lower in potassium. Some foods, like bananas, green salads, and spinach, are too high in potassium and can cause serious problems.

Another good example is antibiotic medication. Milk and cheese can affect the way antibiotics work.

  • Bring a list of your parent's medications with you when visiting assisted living communities
  • Talk to the dining staff to be sure they understand the implications and side effects of any meds and dietary restrictions

3. Quality Care in Assisted Living Dining Rooms - Gourmet Meals Provided by Real Chefs

One fascinating trend in senior living dining is the credentials of chefs designing the menus and working in senior communities.

Instead of hiring folks from the medical field or senior care industry, senior living companies are hiring experienced chefs and dining room staff with hospitality backgrounds. These dining rooms feel less like a cafeteria and more like a five-star restaurant! 

While this is a newer trend, it's not that surprising. Today's assisted living clients have better educations, better-earning power, more savings, and are quite aware of the difference between hospital food and a truly gourmet meal. 

Taste the Difference!

Again, we cannot stress this enough; the best way to understand the assisted living dining experience is to tour the community and sit with them at mealtime. Check out the menu and sample the foods. Look around at the other seniors. Do they seem excited about their menu options? Are they happy with the food?

  • Don't hesitate to sit down with some seniors and ask them directly about their dining experience at this senior living community! 

What About Holidays and Events?

It's no secret that socialization is valuable to our older loved ones. As we age, we lose social connections we once had with co-workers, friends, and family members who have moved away. Be sure that the community you're looking into offers plenty of social dining experiences or special evenings. These social relationships are vital to your loved one's engagement, overall happiness, and, ultimately, their longevity! 

Our Role

Mealtime is meaningful for our customers at Weatherly Inn. Our residents enjoy tasty, quality meals prepared to suit them as individuals. We are proud to serve the finest, gourmet meals in our inviting dining rooms. 

  • Meals at Weatherly Inn are tailored to each of our resident's unique needs
  • In our memory care community, meals are provided in a homey setting, to provide the comfort and routine of family-style dining for our clients

Another essential point about assisted living dining is the importance of social interactions. Here, mealtimes are exciting opportunities for your family member to engage with peers and socialize. We also provide a ton of fun dining events and special evenings during the year, to bolster the social connections among our residents and give them the highest quality of living. seniors having coffee togther

At Weatherly Inn, both independent living and assisted living residents may choose to dine at any time they wish, and select from a variety of tasty options. Unlike other assisted living communities, our residents may choose to give menu input by joining our food committee, which is another way we bring social interaction and value to your loved one's time here. 

Would you like to learn more about assisted living at Weatherly Inn? We'd love to give you a tour! Schedule a visit with us today and sit with us for a meal! We know you'll be impressed with our menu choices and chef-inspired meals. 


Related Reading & Resources:

General Mills: How to Build Community Through Food at Retirement Living Facilities

Elder Care Alliance: The Importance of Socialization in Aging