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How Senior Living Nutrition Improves Well-Being

Caitlin Burm
By Caitlin BurmMarch 14, 2014

Eating well is one of the most important aspects of a senior’s life, as proper nutrition not only makes a difference in one’s health, but also increases energy and improves well-being. It can be difficult to choose a balanced meal that your health and happiness will benefit from, but recently, senior living communities have taken that worry away by combining healthy meals with pleasant community dining. Here are ways senior living nutrition can improve one’s well-being.

Dining and Nutrition Innovation in Senior Living

Dining is one of the first things to consider when a loved one is looking to move into a senior living community. Because seniors have unique nutritional needs as they age -whether it is from changing taste buds or not wanting to eat, to medication side effects- it is important that communities consider healthy nutrition and ways for residents to enjoy their dining experience.

In order to meet these objectives, senior living communities focus on innovation of meals and dining. As 11 Innovative Ways that Senior Communities Promote Nutrition details, there are many ways that senior communities have promoted health and happiness by committing to nutrition.

If you are worried about your loved one’s diet, look for senior communities that focus on:

Resident Input

“Communities consult with their residents as a first step of the menu planning process. In fact, many senior communities have formal resident food committees to facilitate dialogue between residents and dining staff. Communities will also poll their residents or have recipe contests in order to make dining as resident-centered as possible.”

Menus Reviewed by Nutritionists

“Communities make sure that the food that’s served has sufficient vitamins and minerals, and that it meets other basic requirements. For example, Geoff Davis, an executive at the senior living provider Merrill Gardens, told A Place for Mom that their menus are “screened by registered dieticians who review and validate nutrition.”

Healthy Meals with Subtle Substitutions

“Communities strive to provide meals low in fat and without added salt. To ensure that the healthy options taste great, chefs at senior communities often use herbs and spices to substitute for salt.”

Flexible Dining Schedules

“Many senior communities offer flexible mealtimes so that residents can adopt a schedule and routine that fits their unique preferences and characteristics. According to a recent study, seniors also report higher levels of satisfaction with assisted living communities that provide flexible dining hours.”

Food Appreciation and Education Classes

“Jason Childers, an executive at the senior living company LeisureCare, told us that they often give cooking exhibitions to residents so that the seniors who live at the community ‘can watch what the chef is creating.’ Atria senior living communities offer food lectures, and one chef even received an award from the International Council on Active Aging for the class that he gives at his community, Atria Campana del Rio.”

Healthy, High-Class Senior Dining

As if innovation of senior living nutrition and dining wasn’t enough, some senior living communities have taken their meals a step further to improve their residents’ well-being.

Leisure Care is on a mission to create gourmet entrees for the residents in their senior living communities that rival meals at some of the world’s best restaurants, as told in: Senior Living Dining That Rivals Top Restaurants.

They focus on a senior dining experience that has:

A True Restaurant Experience

“Residents are seated, provided with menus, and place their orders with a server. Leisure Care restaurants are set up like 5-star fine dining establishments with linen table clothes, linen napkins, servers in button-up dress shirts. Fresh flowers are often set for resident enjoyment.”

A Variety of Menu Options

“Each community has a planned menu, which includes daily specials along with the “stand by favorites” that are always available. Everything is cooked fresh and from scratch by top-notch chefs.”

Heart-Healthy Choices

“Every menu includes a minimum of five “heart-healthy” items, which are designated with a little heart.”

Gluten-Free Options

“As needed, communities offer gluten-free specials to accommodate physician- prescribed diets.”

Sugar-Free Desserts

“With or without sugar, the dessert collection provides something for everyone.”

Healthy and Happy Senior Living

A 2013 poll surveyed A Place for Mom readers and asked them what worried them the most about their loved one’s diet. Their response? A “lack of desire to eat,” and proper senior nutrition.

Fortunately, with the emphasis that senior living has put on nutritionally balanced meals and dining experiences, your loved one can be healthy and happy in the right senior living community.

Whether dietary concerns include eating only heart-healthy foods, or having your food pureed, there is a senior living community with the right nutritional plan for you.

How has senior living nutrition effected you? Please share your story with us in the comments below.

Caitlin Burm
Caitlin Burm
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