As our senior population grows in number, they are bringing current trends with them into the dining rooms of long term care facilities. Influenced by cooking shows and competitions on popular television shows, those who administer the dining experience are encouraging residents to assist with food preparation and even developing contests of their own.
Another popular trend is adjusting treasured family recipes to suit the larger numbers fed in a facility. Shawn Stanchfield, who oversees 23 facilities in California and Washington, has developed a program called “Cooking From the Heart” that encourages recipe sharing.
Behind the scenes, much work is being done on creating better dietary choices for seniors using current research, new kinds of snacks and smoothies and switching suppliers if they don’t measure up to current nutritional standards. Greater consideration is also being given to the senior’s dining environment. Traffic flow and colours are being reimagined to create spaces that are calm and even mood altering in a bid to assist seniors to eat better.
Facilities are making better use of an array of colourful serving dishes. The old adage that we eat first with our eyes is proving true, especially for residents challenged with dementia who find food more interesting when it pops off something other than a plain white plate. Finger foods are also being incorporated into many facility menus so that wandering or restless seniors can have appropriate and nourishing foods to eat without being forced to sit at a table.
Making eating more of an experience is something that can be done in our own homes as well. If you have an aging senior living with you, try some of these techniques to encourage better eating.