We at The Arbor Company frequently speak with seniors and their loved ones about the decision to move to an assisted living community. Understandably, families have questions about such things as costs, activity calendars, and the balance between independence and supervision. We always enjoy having these conversations and telling our future residents about what they can expect from life at Arbor!
One particular area of concern that comes up in most of these conversations is dining. Many people, whether because of past bad experiences or knowledge of stereotypes, picture tasteless meals in bland, silent cafeterias. This image may not have been far off in the past, but dining at assisted living communities has come a long way! Read on to learn how.
Nutrition is a priority ...
As we age, our bodies change in many ways. After a certain age, we need fewer calories, and the calories we do consume need to provide us with different kinds of nutrients. Seniors living at home have to keep track of these new dietary concerns on their own or rely on a likely untrained loved one for support. But dining at an assisted living community means eating food prepared by trained chefs who stay on top of the latest in senior nutrition and know and care about the residents they serve. Assisted living chefs are also always happy to accommodate doctors’ diet instructions and serve food specifically designed to be low in cholesterol or sodium.
... but so is creativity.
Nutritious doesn’t have to mean not-delicious! Although chefs in assisted living communities take health and nutrition seriously, they are also passionate about their work and strive to make mealtimes something to look forward to. Residents enjoy three distinct meals every day, often prepared with local, seasonal ingredients. Any given week’s meal schedule might include lasagna one night, enchiladas the next, and breakfast for dinner later in the week!
Dining rooms are inviting and comfortable.
Above, we mentioned the stereotype of the boring cafeteria setting for dining in assisted living communities. Now, we’re happy to shatter that stereotype! Although nutrition and taste are important, top-tier assisted living communities know that mealtimes are about more than just food. We want our residents to look forward to meals and truly enjoy the experience, not just go through the motions out of necessity. Every day, we are proud to serve residents in our attractive open-seating dining area, where each place is set with flatware and linens. The tables where those places are set are comfortable but small enough to encourage conversation. Our residents enjoy catching up with each other, sharing grandkid stories or making sure a good friend is planning to attend the same community event they are later in the week.
Each resident’s needs are accommodated.
Most assisted living residents are able to maintain a relatively high level of autonomy, and our staff takes care to respect each person’s independence as much and for as long as possible. But we also know that aging can mean changes to residents’ abilities, and we are dedicated to accommodating those changes, from making apartments accessible to scheduling activities appropriate for those at all cognitive ability levels.
At mealtime, this dedication is best demonstrated by our Dining with Dignity® program. We never want anyone to dread mealtime because they need some help using utensils or cutting up their food. Through Dining with Dignity, all residents can enjoy our chefs’ delicious meals, but residents who need smaller bites or easier-to-chew textures are accommodated. Residents with varying abilities eat independently together, and no one is embarrassed or made to feel less capable.
Loved ones are welcome to be our guest.
This article is being published during the COVID-19 pandemic, and all Arbor communities are currently operating according to public health guidelines to keep our residents safe and healthy. However, when we can safely ease visitation restrictions, we are looking forward to inviting our residents’ families and loved ones back into our dining room! Although we’re obviously proud of our mealtime experience, we understand that sometimes residents want to enjoy a family dinner at one of Spartanburg’s excellent local restaurants, and we’re also happy to accommodate that. Just don’t be surprised if, after they try it out, Eden Terrace ends up on your family’s shortlist of favorite places to eat!
These are just a few examples of how dining at assisted living communities has changed since the days of plain meals in uncomfortable settings. To learn more about our dining options and everything else that our residents love about life at Eden Terrace, reach out anytime.