How Senior Living is Enhancing the Dining Experience
The word is out: A new generation of retired adults is making the move to senior living, and they’re bringing with them a list of must-haves as they prepare to enjoy the golden years of their lives.
From upscale amenities, to spacious floor plans and high-rise buildings – retirement communities everywhere are getting a complete makeover to match the needs of their new residents. Naturally, this includes dietary needs as well, stemming from an increased understanding of what it means to be a healthy older adult.
More than just exercise rooms or yoga classes (which are often available too); the senior living industry is putting a strong focus on the dining options they’re offering to residents. And big changes are already in motion. We’re here to give you the scoop.
Not Just Food, But a Dining Experience
The baby boomer generation grew up with the dining table as a focal point of family bonding and friendship building. Going out to dinner was, and continues to be, a staple of their social lives. For some, it’s even a part of their weekly schedule.
Because of this, communities are moving further away from lunch lines, food trays and cafeteria-style dining spaces – instead, these new communities are putting an emphasis on creating social atmospheres that also feature great food along the way.
This means dining venues have a lot more range than they did in the past, offering several different options. While one end of the campus might hold a quick and casual bistro, the other might feature a more formal setting. Many of the new communities being built are also offering café areas and even alfresco dining, depending on the climate.
With a wider variety of venues to choose from, residents can choose the scene they prefer on any given day. Preparing for a night on the town? Enjoy an upscale venue, complete with a waitstaff and menu for order. Looking to spend the afternoon in your PJs? Room service is often available, making mealtime convenient and simple.
Whatever the mood is on a given day, each meal should feel like an experience you wouldn’t get at home.
More Variety and Menu Flexibility
Following the cultural shift towards more organic foods, lots of communities have begun to improve and develop their daily lists of dishes that are available. What used to be a short list has expanded into a full assortment of menu choices.
Part of that is because kitchens in senior living communities are becoming much more accommodating than they were in years past. While vegan options used to be a second thought, they’re now a fundamental piece to any menu. And that’s not the only thing that’s becoming commonplace.
Outside of dietary preferences, head chefs are getting more comfortable adapting their offerings to suit the stomachs of their residents. The general rule has become “if the ingredients are in house, we’ll do our best to make it.” Some residents will even offer their own homemade recipes around the holiday season for festive meals and desserts.
The main takeaway: the food choices we have at our disposal should feel limitless, especially during our years in retirement. Because of that, senior communities are taking note. No longer is mealtime a “one size fits all” arrangement. Instead, it’s about catering to the wants and needs of each resident in a way that checks off each box of their dietary journey.
A Focus on The Resident
Most of these changes to the dining arrangements in senior living come directly as a result of the feedback from residents.
While residents have always shared their thoughts with the staff and leadership, technology has made it easier to track the popularity of certain requests.
For example, many senior living communities now offer the opportunity for residents to order in-suite, with an array of dining options at their disposal. This not only simplifies mealtime, but also adds to the experience of retirement living, as room service is no longer only exclusive to hotels.
Additionally, some of the more tech-savvy communities are using platforms that allow residents to order and make dining reservations online. This means the dining options available on campus are getting an upgrade.
No more waiting in line for coffee at the cafe – just place your order and pick it up at your leisure. Or, if you’re planning to eat at one of the more formal venues on campus, you can be sure to save yourself a seat by putting a table on hold over the phone or online.
Retirement: You Only Get One
Dining isn’t the only thing getting a makeover at senior living communities – from new features, to upscale amenities and more, there are big upgrades on the way. To learn more about the changes in senior living, be sure to look at our blog at viamonteliving.org. Or, if you have interest in our community here at Viamonte at Walnut Creek, feel free to reach out to us online or over the phone at 925-621-6600.