Meals need to be attractive, smell inviting and nutritious. Many health issues are “diet challenging”. Poor nutrition and changing physical conditions due to age are potential recipes for disaster.
So How Many?
Senior Communities are serious about the food offered. Independent living communities schedule one to three meals a day while Assisted, Assisted Memory and Skilled Care are required to offer three per day. Meals are well planned and meet dietary guidelines of the World Health Organization while also including gluten free, low sodium and diabetic choices. When a Senior makes a meal alone at home often the results depend on cupboard contents. Meals prepared by a chef include color, fresh fruits, vegetables, a choice of meats, and a number of whole grains. Why? Because living in Independent or Assisted Living “you are what you eat”. There are no “science experiments” in these kitchens. Retirement Communities take nutrition to heart, no pun intended. Chefs as well as registered dietitians educate residents about special diets and food choices. Alternate menus exist for each meal.
Seniors living alone often believe a smoothie or a sandwich are sufficient. A continuous buffet of fresh fruits and leafy vegetables improve resident choices in senior living communities. Bone strength is enhanced by a daily diet of cheese, yogurt, almonds and milk.
Fiber is priceless…whole grains, oatmeal and raw veggies boost the immune system helping to maintain weight (maybe not pumpkin pie, but worth a try), and maintain healthy skin. Should wrinkles be a concern, fill them with fiber, not fat. Contrary to stand-up comedians, fat does NOT fill in the grooves of wrinkles.
Hydration is extremely important in aging. Retirement communities provide beverage bars around the clock with not only water, but fruit juices, flavored teas and decaffeinated coffee. Dehydration is an underlying cause of imbalance and urinary tract infections. Good hydration decreases falls and dramatic changes in behavior.
If invited to try a snack or enjoy a meal while touring, accept the offer…after all, it will be healthy and dining companions are then able to share many of the success stories they have encountered. Healthy eating patterns are established as better choices become available. Even dark chocolate and red wine have been proven to be healthy… in moderation of course!
Just a warning…it is not unusual to gain up to 10 lbs. the first month of living in a Senior Retirement Community…which just may lead to another story….